Introducing myself and my family

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Umberlee168, Jan 5, 2014.

  1. Umberlee168

    Umberlee168 New Member

    Hello, so glad to have found this forum, hopeful that I will be able to find some valuable tools and some moral support.

    I'm a 34 year-old mother of five raising my children in a blended family.

    My husband is 37 and is the father of my youngest two children. My husband has never been a very good stepdad nor husband nor father to our children. He isn't awful and can be very sweet and loving and generous, he is just lazy and puts precious little effort into anyone else. He's very self-centered and apathetic. He has never liked my son much because from the time he was little (we started dating when my son was 5) he was always a challenge behaviorally. He rarely has overt conflicts with my son, but as the years go by he's been developing more and more of a distaste for him to the point where he doesn't even want to be around him most of the time. I understand because I feel the same way sometimes because my son is NOT a pleasant child. However I have unconditional love for my son, even when I don't like him, and my husband does not.

    My oldest son is a month away from being 13. He has always been a challenge and from the time he could walk and talk has pushed the limits as to his boundaries, refused discipline or accountability, etc. etc. At the time I just thought this was how all kids were. Nothing is good enough for him, he's very entitled and negative and angry. This is a kid who if we spent 3 HOURS at McDonald's playland still had a massive tantrum when it was time to leave. At the time I just thought it was because he was young and immature--he could not stand being told "no." If he wanted something it had to be "NOW." If we were to go on a special trip he would be angry about not being able to do every special thing, every ride, get more souvenirs, eat more food, whatever. When I got him a cell phone he was upset that it wasn't an iphone, or that it didn't have mobile data, or that it has parental controls. For some reason he is completely entitled and resents that he just doesn't have EVERYTHING. He breaks rules indiscriminately and without regard for the needs or wants of others. From things as small as being gluttonous with food or snacks to taking money or belongings with some excuse that he feels entitled to them, he just does whatever he wants. If something hasn't been explicitly stated as a rule he will not exercise any judgment or compassion as to doing or not doing it--he get a THRILL in finding these "loopholes." I wish I could think of any examples, but he will do incredibly audacious reckless things that I would never consent to if he were to ask me then say, "You never said I couldn't do that." He causes senseless damage to property for no reason, just because he's "bored." He also breaks rules that have been explicitly stated, like when I told him never to light any fires in the house after I saw he had been burning candles, he then burned a hole in my carpet lighting a smoke bomb in the house and was extremely angry and resentful for getting in trouble for it because "nobody cares about a couple little holes in the carpet."

    He is extremely intelligent but has no love of learning. He has struggled in school since 1st grade because he won't do assignments, or rushes through things, or doesn't study or complete homework. The only thing that matters to him is hanging out with his friends or "screen time" so I have to have an exhaustive system of rewards and incentives to keep him from completely blowing off school. He has been in trouble year after year, teacher after teacher. He desperately wants to switch schools because his BFF goes to a school across town, but every year he hates school and hates his classmates and thinks everyone year after year is just pinning him as this bad kid for no reason...when it's ALWAYS his behavior that's at the root. He has zero insight and zero accountability. Things are always someone else's fault.

    His father is an actively drinking alcoholic who makes excuses left and right for his behavior. About a year ago he got caught shoplifting and I was almost relieved. Just two weeks ago he took my husband's Xbox from our home to his dad's home because he was grounded from screen time here. My husband was furious and almost called the police. This week he was allowed to spend the night at a friend's house and drank himself into a stupor after somehow being allowed access to alcohol. I had my ringer off and woke up to 21 missed calls including my drunken ex screaming at me to "answer your f****ing phone" after which he apparently went and picked our son up (hopefully not driving, because he already has two DUIs) and has had him there since.

    My husband is threatening to leave me because he is done with my son's behavior. I honestly hate having my son around over 50% of the time he is in my home. He's rude, antagonistic, ungrateful, disruptive, and completely untrustworthy. I feel like I have to pick my battles with my son the disapproving scorn of my husband is palpable. My husband thinks I just need to punish him into oblivion. (My husband wants my son, as long as he lives here until he's 18 years old, to just never be allowed out of his room.) I am incredibly resentful at this kid who is screwing up the life I have worked so hard to build for myself.

    I started therapy with him and initially he was very open-minded but after his idiot dad told him what a waste of time therapy is and that strangers shouldn't hear your problems blah blah blah then my son stopped going with me. The last time he went I almost literally had to DRAG him into the therapist's office (he wanted me to PAY him to go). And it doesn't help much because he just nods/yawns/doesn't participate. (At least it helps me. I have a great therapist.)

    Bio dad is also incredibly resistant to the notion of taking medications. Abnormally INSANELY resistant. Scientologist-like. Like I halfway think he would take our son and flee the country rather than let him take medications. I don't think my son meets the criteria for ADD but I do think he needs something to help with impulse control and to slow him down or something because he almost comes across as manic...grandiose, entitled, no respect for boundaries, intrusive, loud and prattling...I actually had to sit him separately from the rest of the family at meals for awhile because he wouldn't stop talking in an extremely disruptive antagonistic manner and "torking off" my four year-old for fun. It's like he isn't happy or fulfilled unless he's making waves.

    After this latest ticket for underage drinking I called our local department of human services and self-reported for help because I am honestly at the point where I am feeling suicidal and homicidal over this situation. Please don't judge me for this because I am afraid to tell anyone, even my therapist because I don't want to be committed or something. I would never act on any urges to hurt myself or my son. I am just so full of rage at my son for putting me through this and at my husband for wanting me to choose between him (and my youngest two kids, by proxy) and my son. I have not done anything to deserve this. I'm also in recovery for alcohol and pill addiction myself (four years clean) and feel incredibly close to relapsing. As my son is at very high risk for severe addiction problems I have had the conversation about drugs and alcohol with him and his siblings regularly for years now and he still chose to drink himself to oblivion at 12 years old. I can't keep him from doing these things yet I am still morally and legally responsible for his behavior for many more years. Years that are almost certainly going to end up in the destruction of my marriage and possibly my sanity.

    I have two other kids with my ex who are no problems at all. My second son is very kind, gentle, sweet, helpful, and introverted. My daughter is a wonderful girl who treats everyone with kindness and respect. I have no idea why my oldest behaves in this awful manner. People always look at the parent like they've done something wrong and I honestly have no idea what I could have done to have a child turn out this way, especially when all my other kids are just fine. My therapist constantly reiterates to me that there may be nothing I can do about him and not to feel guilty or responsible for his behavior. And I have learned to let that go somewhat but society still holds you to it.

    At this point I don't know what to do. I came completely unhinged at my ex after his rude messages on my phone when my son was take to the ER drunk, and instead of being a good example or the voice of reason in the situation I completely lost it. I'm ashamed, I haven't seen or talked to my son since all this happened, I'm scared to death, and I'm worried for the future of my family. There is no peace as long as he's in my household and as much as I want to kick my husband to the curb for being the audacious ass that he is, I love my husband and he is a great provider and I don't want to destroy the chance for my youngest children to maintain a nuclear family.

    Anyway sorry to ramble, but that's us in a nutshell. Thanks so much for listening.
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2014
  2. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Ok, ok, ok.

    Questions: Has your first son been exposed to extreme chaos and maybe abuse and caregiver swapping in his first three years? That can reap havoc with a developing brain.

    Has your son ever received a complete evaluation, say, by a neuropsychologist. I'm talking about very in-depth and 6-10 hours. I'm not talking about therapists...they are not trained to extensively test and diagnose.Legally, they are not allowed to, although sometimes they try. They do not have that sort of training. Neither does a counselor or even some regular psychologists. Hasn't your own therapist told you this is a good idea?

    Do you feel your son has a disorder or do you think he is just a bad kid? Seems like, and I could be wrong, that you are blaming your kid for his behavior entirely. I'm not sure myself, and this is just my opinion, that his perception of life and behavior is NOT NOT NOT his fault. He could have some inherited mental illness or a form of autism, which causes strange "differently wired" behavior. Has he ever gotten interventions to help him function/cope better?

    Your other son was born into stability with two loving parents. He also is dealing with 50% of his genes different from your first son. His behavior has little to do with your first son's other than to show t hat children who are born into stability often have less problems than those who aren't. Also, your second son does not have to see another parent, which can be very confusing to a child.

    Your son is very young to be getting drunk. Has he gotten any help for this? This can lead to worse drug abuse. My daughter smoked pot at age twelve and ended up on psychodelics, cocaine and meth. She quit...but it was not easy. You need to utilize outside services. Your son's behavior, on every level, is not something you can handle on your own. Nor can simple once a week therapy change it.

    Your husband's dislike certainly has always shown to your son. That is not a good situation. After all, he chose to marry you and the child came with the marriage. He is the adult. He's the one who has to be better. Or he should...taking care of your son's needs should in my opinion come before taking care of your husband being annoyed.

    The only solutions I can see revolve around getting your son the best help. Fortunately, your husband is a great provider and able to pay for such things. First of all, family therapy would probably help all of you, including your husband who you say is not even a good father to his own children. He certainly has not been an adequate stepfather to your first son, whom he choose to live with when he married you.

    Secondly, I recommend a neuropsychologist evaluation for your oldest son. He has suffered long enough with issues he did not necessarily cause and in my opinion can not completely control. If he gets no help, expect him to become involved in criminal activity and while the onus is on him when he is 18, for now it is not understandable that you would not get him high level help since you can afford it. If he has not harmed or sexually abused your younger children, he should be getting love and help in his own home for now. If he has, he still needs help, although maybe outside of your home. Hav eyou looked into psychiatric boarding schools? They are pricey, but if you can afford it, I hear they often help.

    You may want to tell us more about your son's early years so we can have a kind of overview of what may be going on. Of course we are not professionals, but most of us have been around the block and can take educated guesses which may or may not be right. Either way, he needs professional evaluating and professional assistance and, by the way, he should have an IEP at school if he is struggling there.

    I hope you can find some good help this child. He may have serious issues, but he needs you as much or even more than your second son and he does not need his stepfather's disdain. by the way, my own son, who is 36, just went through a custody battle. If your husband thinks that he will automatically get full custody of your sons and be able to keep them away from you then he has never met our court system. He's in for a big surprise. No court will remove a mother from her kids and most likely you'd split the time. Your old addiction is NOT a factor in determining who gets custody. It is all about NOW and the BEST interests of the child, which strongly supports both parents being involved in the child's life and in the legal decisions. Don't let this husband scare you. Not saying you should leave him, but if he leaves the house, t hat's a big mistake already on his part. If he makes a lot more than you, he may have to pay for your lawyer and good money to you for child custody. He sounds like he may be a bully...I am not a fan of them.

    If you want to add more about his early years, please do so!!! Hugs for your hurting mommy heart :) Welcome to the board.
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2014
  3. Wiped Out

    Wiped Out Well-Known Member Staff Member

    MWM said things very well. I'm just adding in my welcome and hugs; you have found a safe place to land.
  4. Umberlee168

    Umberlee168 New Member

    I wish I could quote so I could address some of this stuff...I'm sure I will miss some.

    I do wonder sometimes if my kid can "help" any of this behavior. It sure seems like he's hard wired to just do things that pop into his head, even if they're to his detriment and make no sense--almost like he's brain-damaged or something, but no one else seems to follow this train of thought. I live in a rural area that has relatively good health care but pretty weak mental health care. I'm not sure if we have any neuropsychiatrists and we almost certainly don't have any who specialize in pediatrics. Right now I am kind of waiting for DHS to push us in the right direction as far as evaluation etc. because my ex will not consent to any of this but if the state is involved then he has no choice, or less of a choice.

    When I was pregnant with my son I was going to school and trying to better myself while my now-ex was drinking, disappearing, overall being irresponsible and stressing me out really badly. Between that stress and putting myself through school it was a very anxious and unpleasant pregnancy but was normal in every other way. My ex and I were the primary caregivers and there was no domestic violence. Some arguing, some immaturity on both of our parts, some flawed parenting. I believed at the time due to what I had heard from other parents that letting babies cry themselves to sleep was better for them and would make them better-behaved. I remember letting Punch cry in his bassinet for ages until he exhausted himself. I feel extremely, extremely guilty about this now. I also spanked/slapped as punishment back then. Not nearly anything abusive--spankings were almost required because Punch would not stay in time out or, I felt, give me any other option. I would "pop" a kid in the mouth if they were rude or sassy. I wish I had known more about being a parent. I really thought I was doing the best for my children. I wanted to be authoritarian and have kids who obeyed like little soldiers. My second and third kid were raised the same way. (P.S., my second son is a full sibling of this child, it's the third son who isn't.)

    Punch did have an abnormal EEG after a febrile seizure when he was little, but they told us just to watch him and that probably no follow-up was needed. He also had a tic for several years. He had a minor head injury on the playground at age 5 but in reality was "difficult" way before that.

    As I said, he's extremely smart and has tested miles ahead of classmates for years. He was reading at college level before he entered middle school. That's one thing that makes it so heartbreaking to see him setting out on this path...not to mention that I don't want him to make the mistakes I did (and his dad continues to make) with drinking or drugs. That absolutely terrifies me.

    I hate the way my husband acts about him. I had a stepmom who treated me with complete disdain and I can still feel that sting all these years later. I have told my husband for years that I can't let him treat my kids that way. But he has gotten worse instead of better (they both have, really). I absolutely agree that my husband is a bully. He would rather divorce me than go to any kind of family therapy but maybe if it's court-ordered or advised by DHS he would follow through. Probably not. My husband is a great provider but I make as much money as he does, he just has us all under stellar insurance. Punch's bio dad does not pay for ANYTHING.

    If I felt like breaking up my little kids' nuclear family and putting all my energy into "saving" Punch would work, I would do it in a heartbeat. If I wasn't terrified of being a single mom with five kids by two different guys, including a kid who is a "problem child," I might consider starting over in a relationship. The thought of dating and of having my little kids have to be some jerk's stepkids too just breaks my heart. I mean, I just think is splitting up going to make things better or worse and in every column except one it would be worse...and the one is what falls on Punch. And I do love my husband. He is a total ass and if I had to do it all over again I don't think I would marry him but I love him with all my heart. I definitely love him more than he loves me, though.

    Do neuropsychiatric evaluations actually give you data that supports that this kid's brain is impulsive or lacks the ability to make good decisions?
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2014
  5. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Ok. I wonder if you are used to being abused. You are definitely not taking care of yourself first. That is not as easy as it sounds. I typed it easily. Doing it, when one isn't used to it, is another story. I'm not so sure that you'd not be doing everyone a favor by leaving this man. But I'm not you. At any rate, you don't have to date. You don't have to have a man in your life at all. I know, this was a new concept to me too after I divorced!! I was brought up to get married! But I actually liked being single. If my husband hadn't been so sweet, I don't think I would have ever married again! Since you make as much money as stepdad, you know what? You have more control than you think. And you would be able to get health insurance now through the exchange.

    neuropsychologist reports will tell you if your son's brain function is normal or not. They can diagnose things such as ADHD, executive function disorders (very important in decision making and impulsivity), autistic spectrum disorders (Aspergers means social cluelessness often with VERY high IQ), impending or early bipolar disorder, or attachment issues...anything really. I don't believe your son woke up every day when he was young thinking about ways to hurt you or make you angry. I think he had problems, neurologically. Forget your early mistakes. You can't change them and they are a part of your past, not now. His issues are not your fault.

    Some of us have traveled two hours to get our kids evaluated. Yes, mental healthcare lags behind all else, but it is there. The best place to go, in my opinion, is university hospitals. I also live in a small population area. I had to travel 1 1/2 hours for five days to get kiddo assessed by a good neuropsychologist. Wasn't fun, but was worth it.

    Does bio. dad share legal custody with you? If not, go without his consent. If he does, and you have the $$$ get a lawyer and take him to court. I don't think a judge would block your concern for your child or stop you from seeing a neuropsychologist for an evaluation. I feel so bad for you. Obviously you are working against two braindead men. But you are your son's only hope. He may end up going badly no matter what you do, but, hey, we have to try, right?

    I'm really glad you are seeing a therapist for yourself. You need to be kind to YOU. I think it would be a good idea for you to attend an Al-Anon meeting to see what it's like. On top of you having to deal with alcoholic ex, who still sees your son, you need to try to ward off son's alcoholic intake. I have adopted kids who both had substance abuse in their genetics, which is more important than their environment, and we've had the talk just like you. Some kids listen; some don't.

    Look, you do the best you can, and we are here to listen and support you. Please try to get help for your son any way you can. That way he maybe will not escalate and put your other kids at risk.

    I would also start stashing some money in a separate account in case your husband suddenly decides to leave without warning you. If he ever asks you to leave the house, I have learned through helping my son in his divorce that the one who leaves the house is usually the one hwo loses custody and the divorce battle. Now, I hope this doesn't happen to you. But I don't trust your husband based on what you have told me.

    I am so sorry for your hurting heart and we really do have a good support system here. If you feel like your son has alcohol issues, you may want to post on Substance Abuse (we have a forum for that too which is pretty active). Most people on this forum are dealing with children who do not yet have substance abuse issues, although some do!

    Hugs and keep posting!
  6. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    Welcome Umberlee. Glad you found us but sorry that you had to seek us out. This is a great resource for you as all of us wanted to be perfect parents with perfect children...and, of course, expected to have perfect spouses. LOL. We understand that doing the best you can do does not guarantee "happily ever after".

    Since you are an RN you likely know where the best pediatric help is available out of your town. I found the head of Special Education in our small town was kind and knowledgeable. (not always the case!) The School Board had a list of NP providers and I opted for one two hours away from home. The testing was about six hours in duration and a team of three took turns evaluating in their field of specialty. For us it was very very helpful. Did it turn our difficult child into a easy child? Nope! on the other hand the reports provided the explanation for each of his strange behaviors and gave me hope.

    Are you absolutely sure that you can not have him evaluated with-o the approval of your Ex?? Read the paperwork carefully when you are alone and don't share with anyone that you are exploring NP help.
    I was divorced when I had trouble with my first difficult child and "thought" my Ex had to be kept informed. I was wrong. He was only to be involved in "invasive" procedure decisions. I' m betting you are free to get the evaluation done with-o issues so long as you keep a low profile (including your current husband, lol). You and your difficult child may even enjoy having a day together with-o the others around! Hugs DDD
  7. Umberlee168

    Umberlee168 New Member

    I looked into some neuropsychologist evaluators. I'm out west, so it would be a minimum of four hours to see someone. Is neuropsychology the same thing as neuropsychiatry? I could only find neuropsychologist evaluators. In the descriptor it says the test would be all from observation and completely non-invasive. I guess I envisioned something dramatically black and white that I can show to my husband and say, "LOOK, this wiring is off." Not just asking questions or doing puzzles or something. I mean, how can they rule out or confirm bipolar by asking questions if the kid isn't in an acute episode or whatever? I'm worried I'm barking up the wrong tree.

    I had a talk with husband today and he basically said he thought we should split up because he doesn't want to share a home with difficult child. I find that incredibly unfair. The kid is 12. Granted, he is REALLY stressful to be around, so I get it...and I'd almost rather husband move out than wait until things get worse between them. Right now the hostility from husband is almost as hard on me (not sure if difficult child feels it, but if he doesn't yet he surely will) as the behaviors from difficult child.

    I really don't want to get a divorce. My first marriage failed because I was incredibly naive and married a just awful husband, someone that I partied with and thought would grow up if we had kids together and settled down. That never happened and the ex has had a series of job losses and brushes with the law and is trapped in a dead-end $9 an hour career. When I met my husband he was so smart, had gone to college, had a good job, was handsome, athletic, kind to my children, etc. etc. and just seemed like everything that my ex wasn't. I didn't realize how cold and self-centered and lazy and apathetic he is...he has no zest for life, he doesn't really enjoy anything. Nothing I do is special or appreciated. He would be happy enough eating mac and cheese every day on paper plates and playing video games, he doesn't care if he has a wife cooking for him and the demands on his time are a nuisance. I really don't know why he ever wanted to get married and have children except that it must have been some kind of societal pressure (he was raised Mormon). He would be much happier staying in his parents' basement and playing video games and eating pizza.

    We've talked about him maybe just moving out but us not getting divorced. Then he could have his own space and somewhere down the line when the older kids are out of the house we can live together again. We may even invest in a second property rather than rent something, then down the line we could sell it or rent it. It sounds unorthodox but I'd rather live separately than get divorced. I watched my mom be single and date unsuccessfuly for years, and went through her strings of crappy boyfriends and I just don't want my kids to go through any of that. Tomorrow husband and I are going to talk some more about it and maybe he will come to a decision. It blows my mind that he would rather run away than put any effort into doing whatever little part he can in being a part of a family with my son.
  8. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Heck, I like the idea of him leaving. It says a lot that sitting in Mommy's basement and playing videogames would please him. Let him live there. As for dating, why do you think you have to date? Just one more complication and another personality to deal with...possibly a grown up difficult child. This is my second marriage. If, God forbid, anything happens to hubby, I'm done with dating and marriage. I think maybe your therapist can help you see that you can have others (besides a romantic interest) as your support system. Your kids don't need Stepfather II. You don't need Immature Man III. Reject your mom's need for a man, ANY man, and go it alone; get to know yourself and your children.

    Apparently this husband is still a child. Do you really need another child to pacify? I don't know much about Mormons, but I thought they were family-oriented. Guess he isn't really a very good Mormom either, huh?

    You deserve your own life and have enough on your plate other than a grown up child. This is again all just my own opinion and you sure don't have to listen to me and I will still support you.
  9. Umberlee168

    Umberlee168 New Member

    It probably sounds incredibly co-dependent of me, but I don't want to be alone. More than anything I don't want to go through/put my kids through another divorce. husband's family has taken a surrogate role to my older kids and if he and I split up the relationship my kids have with his family just wouldn't be the same. They would withdraw out of some misguided sense of respect for husband and my (older) kids would no longer see or know their aunts, cousins, grandparents etc. that have been a part of their lives this long. I know this would happen because it happened in a previous marriage he was in.

    Yeah, he is possibly the worst Mormon ever. They are supposed to be very family-centered but his family is so screwy and weird. husband is a product of his weird home environment and his stunted, immature, emotionally retarded ways aren't anything he can help or change either. And he isn't THAT bad. When I spell it all out and complain about his ways it sounds like he's intolerable but there are some really good things about him. He isn't a particularly good husband or dad but it isn't worth divorce to me. I guess that's the thing that irks me the most, because aside from my older kids I'm really not bringing any "catches" to the relationship. I'm very good to him and I love him so much. I work my butt of both inside and outside our relationship and I wish he felt like I was worth fighting for. But I can't make him care if he doesn't. I think in a way I would feel pretty liberated if he did decide to end it. I would be devastated but ultimately it would be okay. I do feel very angry at difficult child that things are getting this bad in my relationship because of his out-of-control behavior. But I still really think/hope I can make this work somehow.

    It is frustrating to be trapped in a web of men behaving badly.

    Well, thank you all so much for the support and words of wisdom. It feels incredibly liberating just to be able to have a place where I can spill all of this.
  10. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Oh, spill away.

    Believe it or not, I do understand.

    Just try not to blame your child for the troubles in your marriage. Really, your child is THE child and can't help how he is.

    Keep posting. It helps. We're here 24/7 and it's kind of nice (at least it was for me) to be able to post at 2am on a bad, sleepless night knowing that SOMEBODY would respond. It's like a crisis line only crisis workers often have never gone through what we do so they are coming from a different place. Most of us have suffered at the hands of our own children so we do get it.

    Hugs. Try to have a good day. One day at a time...:)