I've TRIED everything..............I need HELP!

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by maryellen19440, Mar 5, 2008.

  1. maryellen19440

    maryellen19440 New Member

    Hi to everyone. I am new to this site and new to this difficult child world. I thought I could handle it; I am failing miserably?
    I married into this last April..........................
    difficult child-18 yo Stepson, Bi Polar + Supposed to graduate in May?
    difficult child-12 yo Stepdaughter, Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD), ODD, Bi Polar
    ME-I was sane! 2-easy child grown sons, 31 + 29
    husband EX-Bi Polar and other issues

    Came into this relationship with Eyes Wide Open??
    My difficult child step kids don;t do anything they are told. They have to be told when to take a Bath/Shower and wash their hair. They don't brush their teeth, they don't flush the toilet. They don't clean up their messes. They just don't care about a thing.
    Each one has one (1) thing that is asked as a chore per day. One does dishes, one takes out the trash, and everyday they switch. SIMPLE, right? I woke up this morning to a mess in the kitchen, garbage in the sink; counters a mess, smell of trash and garbage in the laundry room and trash falling on the floor. I immediately went balistic.
    I called for a meeting (family) just the night before and this is not the first time and let the kids know what is expected of them. Its like talking to brick walls??? I can't get thru to either of them. My husband says nothing?
    Neither child can do more then i thing at a time; thats why I give them 1 item each. Every morning I get up with the 12 yo; her dad and husband EX never got up with her. I begin my day screaming? I work 8-9 hours a day, come home, cook, laundry, take care of dogs, kids, and then have to tuck in the 12 yo.
    The husband Ex is giving up custody to us, papers just sent to her lawyer and we hope this is better for the kids living in one stable, one set of rules home. EX has kicked both kids out of her home at least 4 times the past year and finally said she doesn't want them! I guess that makes me the winner? Winner??
    I love these kids but life is not EASY? The 12 yo is always right there and never even lets me alone..................I am feeling smothered and like I am going crazy. difficult child #1 hasn't been taking his depakote er like he's supposed to. difficult child #2 is on Depakote, Risperdahl, and FocalinER.
    She is always angry and constantly tells me she never has learned anything from her mom about Hygiene (for example). She lies constantly. She cusses like a sailor. She doesn't care what she looks like. She is mean and disrespectful to all of us. Don't get me wrong, Sometimes I see a glimpse of someone nice in there, but not often!
    I am really TIRED!
  2. So Tired

    So Tired Member

    MaryEllen - Whew! Deep, Cleansing breath for each of us!

    Wecome. I am new to this forum also. I hope you find some answers and some comfort here. I have been reading many of the old posts and have been moved to tears by how had we have all been trying for our difficult children. I think for you it must really be a culture shock to be dropped in the middle of all of it.

    It has only been in the past year that I realized that the way I dealt with my difficult child was only making the problem worse. I kept looking for reasonable behavior from someone who was not able to give reasonable behavior. The two programs that helped me the most were "Parenting with love and logic" (offered free from our school system) and "The total transformation" (very expensive, but I was desperete)

    I am concerned that your husband doesn't seem to be backing you up. These kids will definately divide and concur if they can. I hope you can convince husband that you need a battle plan that you agree upon in advance. Yelling doesn't work and just makes you angry and upset. Kids are not upset at all -- you are still doing all the work for them!

    Many here have been battling this for some time - Have you checked out some of their recomendations here on books?

    I am so sorry MaryEllen, that you feel so overwhelmed and exhausted. Hopefully, this is a place where you can come to "fill up your tank"
  3. maryellen19440

    maryellen19440 New Member

    Hi, Thanks so much for responding to me. How sweet and I need communication from women and men just like me? It's really comforting to know they are out there.
    I've gone to parenting classes, difficult child #2 has been in therapy for 8 years.
    You are right, they are difficult child and not a part of the REAL world.
    My husband does need to get in gear. This morning in my rage I told him he could be the Mom and I will be the DAD? I refuse to give up like I said, but whats next? How did the The Total Transformation work?
    How is your 18 yo doing? difficult child #1 will be 19; he works P/T but can't take too much in at a time? He wants to go to College. Will he survive?
    Thanks for adding some gas to my tank.
  4. janebrain

    janebrain New Member

    Hi Maryellen,
    your husband needs to be the one calling the shots with these kids. A stepparent can't just step in and become the main authority. My husband had to take it very slowly with my 3 kids and I was always the main disciplinarian. They had to have time to develop a relationship and even so it is not the same as with a parent. They have come to see him as their dad (their own dad died) but it couldn't be forced and he has had to show a lot of patience and caring for this to happen.

    I admire you for taking on this family who seems to desperately need someone like you! I just think you have to somehow let or force husband to take on the leadership role for it to work.

    Glad you came here, lots of people will be chiming in I am sure!

  5. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Hi, Maryellen. Wow. You really stepped into a tough situation.
    On your signature you said husband is an alcoholic. Is he still drinking? If so, I'm not sure you can fix this...he needs to be the one controlling his own kids...
  6. So Tired

    So Tired Member

    Just had a fight with my difficult child today, so obviously I'm no expert!!The dog knocked down his X-Box. Of course it was all my fault for letting the dog get into the basement. Had nothing to do with all the empty food wrappers that difficult child had left all around it. I am very proud that I neither yelled or cried when difficult child was swearing and yelling at me. Just kept telling him that even when he is angry, he cannot be abusive. Only after he left with his friend did I allow myself to be upset. (This is progress for me.)

    My difficult child has graduated HS. Works part-time and has keep his job for 9 months. He did have plans for college, got a 33 on his ACTs!, but withdrew 2 days before classes were to start. That is the hard part -- difficult children have so much potential !! Although he is very bright, he is very immature. He wants the security of our home, but not the rules that come with it. (We don't ask that much, just the basics of civilized living: Don't bring stangers here in the middle of the night, clean up after yourself, don't be verbally abusive, etc.)

    Total transformation is a series of CD's, a DVD and a workbook. (It was about $200-300, I think. They also have a help line for $29/mon. It was nice to have someone to talk to to re-inforce the program) I have found it helpful in changing my attitude and behavior. I believe in many of the posts it is called a "disconnect" It has saved my sanity. Previously, my difficult child and I had escallated to actual physical altercations. Whish I could say it worked magic on my difficult child, but apparantly he has to learn things the hard way.

    I think the hardest part is that the frustration of dealing with the difficult child's antics is so emotionally and physically draining.

    It you find something that works, let me know, and I'll do the same for you!! :redface:
  7. tryinghard

    tryinghard New Member


    I just wanted to say welcome. I have no great advice to give other than I have received great advice and support from this group. It truly is a "soft place to land".
  8. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    I absolutely recommend the Love&Logic stuff. It has been the most help in getting ALL of us to do what we need to. You can get lots of info, some interesting free audio downloads, and more of an idea of it on www.loveandlogic.com . I do recommend even reading the teacher stuff that is free. I found it helpful.

    You need to read "The Explosive Child" by Ross Greene. IT will help you prioritize and figure out how to tackle things.

    Have you been going to Al-Anon? If your husband has a drinking problem (even if he is not actively drinking, or is in recovery) then this will be a WORLD of help for you.

    Please step back from the discipline of your stepkids. It will NOT work. I watched this be a MAJOR problem in my bro's marriage. She didn't want to discipline her kids, he was sick of watching them walk all over her. He tried to discipline, the kids resented it, and this helped hasten the end of the marriage.

    Al-Anon will help you figure out how to communicate what you feel is needed to your husband. There are many books out there for step parents also.

    It may be helpful to make a list of what bugs you. (just because reasonable people would see this as a problem does NOT mean that the kids, or your husband will - you probably will have to learn some very new ways to handle issues and communicate if this is to work for all of you.)

    Then prioritize things. With the kids you and husband need to come to an agreement about what is to be done, and HOW (break it into baby steps) then husband MUST MUST MUST be the one to drive the discipline. IF he won't, then you are really going to have major major problems.

    After you have the top few things that bug you, sit and talk in a kid-free neutral place. It can be over dinner, a therapists office, whatever works for you. Even as you take a walk.

    I am sorry it is so rough. I know it can't be easy for you.

    As a question, What was husband's home/apartment like when you first started dating? Did you end up doing major cleaning/improvements/etc... FOR him?? He may or may not "get it" that the chores need to be done.

    I hope you can find a happy shared ground to help the kids.


  9. maryellen19440

    maryellen19440 New Member

    Hi Susie, Thanks for the pep talk; I need all I can get. Just back from lunch and a crying jag.............. I am trying to be tuff and everything gets so screwed up. I have called the library about the books that you recommended. Hope to p/u tonite after work. My husband is still drinking! I have tried everything..... He wants to quit but I sure can relate right now. I do not drink except socially (not very social lately).
    I have been wanting to go to Al-Anon and have put it off; I can't put off any longer.
    You and the others are right.............I shouldn't be the one setting all the rules.......................They are HIS kids FIRST!
    He and his Ex were married for 18 years, and a nasty 2 year battle over divorce. He got the divorce . She; according to everyone who knew them did nothing but scream and argue the whole marriage, from day 1.
    husband on the other hand Drank! NO, I didn't realize that he was an alcoholic till after we were married.
    Yes, when I finally moved in I did do a lot of cleaning and re organizing; the EX took most of the furniture. She was a horrible housekeeper. I have never seen so much filth or mess in my life. I couldn't believe that anyone could live that way.
    I am going to talk to husband tonite and make a few things clear and I am going to take your advice. I thank you from the bottom of my heart; My eyes are open right now and I can see clearer.
    Mary Ellen
  10. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    Maryellen, I agree that this is a situation that you probably can't fix. It's imperative to work on husband first, set your boundaries with the kids, and detach from those things that you can't help. Many of our moms with these kinds of pressures do benefit from having a therapist for themselves since it's such a tough emotional road.

    Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) is a serious diagnosis and many kids with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) can't function living in a home setting. Those who are on our boards that live at home usually have outside support in the form of therapy, weekend respites, aides to assist in the home or outings, and often spend time in residential settings. Are any of those supports in place for her?
  11. meowbunny

    meowbunny New Member

    First, welcome. You will find a lot of support and caring here. It's a great place to vent.

    A couple of questions. You say your husband is an alcoholic, was the ex also one? Any chance she drank while pregnant? The reason I'm asking is some of the symptoms you're describing fit into the fetal alcohol syndrome/effect ranges, especially the inability to do more than one thing at a time. If she did there and if your steps have it, it is an organic brain disease for which there is presently no cure.

    Who diagnosed the kids and how long ago? It is common for Dxes to change as kids get older, so it might be worth having them re-diagnosed.

    So long as your husband is drinking, you're up the proverbial creek. He needs to get some help. You can't parent alone and, in reality, you shouldn't be parenting at all at this stage. You haven't been in the picture long enough. For now, you should be more in the role of a dear aunt -- making suggestions, supporting your husband and only stepping in when absolutely necessary for health/safety issues.

    Again, welcome. Hope tonight is a little better.
  12. maryellen19440

    maryellen19440 New Member

    Good Morning, and thanks for all the support and advice I got yesterday. Yesterday was NOT a good day.
    As far as my husband goes; I went and talked to a pastor at our church. He gave me a councelor to call; I asked husband to go and he will go..............I know that he really wants to stop drinking.....And Me, I have several books on order to help me parent these kids properly. The kids have been in therapy most of their lives and still are. They also see a psycologist every 3 months for evaluations and drug changes. Thats coming up on Monday.. Thank god
    Things got worse yesterday Pm when I found out that difficult child# 1 skipped a class and his IEP teacher called me and said that she thought he was still looking at porn. When I got home from work; gone on the computer and there it was. PORN
    Needless to say, I was hurt, lied to and led to believe everything was going good. Of course, as soon as husband got home we talked, decided on consequences and deleted all the garbage from the computer. He is also on My Space (not anymore) The computer has been disconnected!!
    He worked last nite, when he got home I exploded on him> Not the right thing to do (I know) He's not been taking his Depakote lately (not Good) and then his dad had a talk with him. He went to bed, We thought................
    Got up this am to find him and his car gone?? Scarry!! I started calling his friends and found that he left last night and stayed at a friends and got up this morning(Zombie) and went to school. I had contacted the school and told them what happened. The school called me and said he was ok, but out of it and very tired. I asked them to send him home. He is there now and asleep.
    This young man is amazing; he writes poetry and his heart is so big. He is constantly in LOVE with evry girl that pays attention to him and gets hurt always. He is a mess cause his mom has kicked him out of her house a dozen times and now is giving us full custody. She no longer wants to see them. ( nice) They are going to their Mom's (#2 child is actually the grand kid) on Saturday to say good bye and get their things from her house. I hope this goes ok. The kids have not seen her in a month...............I really think they are going to be better off with just one set of parents and one set of firm rules. Mom is a screamer!!
    Some of the things she has done and said to the kids is soooo wrong.
    I want to be there for them and make a difference in their lives. A positive difference
  13. CrazyinVA

    CrazyinVA Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Maryellen, I really hope you can get to Al-anon soon. It will help you find yourself and your place in all the drama .. and to get down to the business of fixing what you can, and accepting what you can't fix. What I'm getting most from your posts is that you are trying to control everything and everyone around you, to keep everything running smoothly .. and end up spinning your wheels. Take a deep breath, step back, and re-evaluate. You can't be the savior in this situation .. nor should you try. You can offer loving support, make positive suggestions and be a postive role model .. but it's up to your husband to do what needs to be done with the kids. That may or may not happen as long as he's still drinking. It's a tough situation, to be sure (been there done that).

    Hang in there, keep coming here and venting, there are some great folks here. While you're getting the other parenting books.. you might check out books like "Codependent No More" and some Al-Anon literature (which you can get from the meetings), to help yourself focus on and take care of YOU in all this.

    Many hugs to you.
  14. maryellen19440

    maryellen19440 New Member

    Hi and thanks so much for your words and thoughts, it means a lot. husband has agreed to see a counselor with me; I called today and will try and set the appointment as soon as he has a spot open. Al- anon has several meetings in my area and I have printed a list of them and will be checking this out too.
    I did talk with my #1 step son today and he is doing better; he feels really abandoned lately and I told him that we will all sit down and work thru some issues with him. I am utterly amazed by all the support and replys I have gotten. I never knew how many people and innocent kids had these problems and dignosis. Its so sad............
    Mary Ellen
  15. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    When you say "we will all sit down and work thru some issues with him" it's very important that his father and his counselor take the lead in this. As a new stepmom with a biomom still in the wings, it's important that you are a supporting player and not the main mover and shaker.

    Have either of the children ever been in inpatient hospital care or residential treatment?