Looking for insights

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by seashell, Mar 20, 2014.

  1. seashell

    seashell New Member

    Hello. Obviously I am new here. I have been poking around a bit and the information and support here is tremendous. A little background: I am posting about my boyfriend's son, not my own. I have been dating this man for more than 2 years and his son will be 12 in a few days. Here is what I know: has been evaluated by a neuropsychologist twice, no diagnosis except "processing difficulties." Was in speech at school for awhile. For what it is worth, I have noticed a regression lately in that. He has started to pronounce his V as B, but my boyfriend NEVER notices it. 12 year old is intelligent, but struggles with certain classes at school, especially refuses to do homework. Good grades, just always seems resistant to homework, very literal, needs lots of help, etc. He is extremely manipulative. He taunts his sister (14 months younger) relentlessly and lies about it/pretends to be the victim. He does this in a way where he thinks he is being sly but I see it and sometimes boyfriend does too. He gets great pleasure in getting his sister in trouble and taunts her so she will "blow up" and get in trouble. I will see him actually smile when that happens and he avoids punishment for himself. He feigns complete disbelief if he is called on his behavior. He thinks the rules do not apply to him. He purposely annoys people, e.g., does the exact thing his dad will ask him not to do. He often still has full blown temper tantrums/rages at his age over seemingly silly things. (I know, silly to us, not necessarily to him.) He negotiates EVERYTHING and refuses to take no for an answer if it involves something he wants, eg., what movie to watch, what video game to play, whether to go bowling or something else. He has social problems at school and always has. He is insincere in his apologies and thank yous. He rarely makes eye contact with me (and others) but I have another theory on that. He craves sugar. He is disrespectful and freaks out to get his way. His mother has primary "care" though I would use that terms loosely. She is a narcissist with borderline tendencies (undiagnosed) and uses her kids as pawns in the divorce. They are officially divorced but she still goes into court on a regular basis for the primary need of keeping my boyfriend "engaged." SHe lies to them about their father and also tells them I am a monster and tries to get them to hate me, which is why I think he refuses to engage me; I think he feels disloyal to his mother. Son has been to therapy but I don't know much about that and it is sporadic and inconclusive except that the son has said he hates it. 12 year old dislikes doing things with the family unless it is something he chose. Addicted to video games. I hate not seen violence per se, just violent outbursts. When boyfriend had to put his dog to sleep last fall after 14 years (kids grew up with this dog) the son shed not a tear. That may mean nothing, but if there is anything that can get to us, it is animals. He shows other signs of lack of empathy like no visible affect most of the time, says things like, "I just don't feel like crying about it now" or "I care about dogs just not about cats at all." I would describe him as a button pusher. He lies a lot and I suspect he leaves his father's and goes home and lies about what he did or what his father said and does the same when he comes to his father's from his mother's. (I don't think everything is a lie, I think he lies if it will get him something, earn his mother's love, etc.) I do NOT live with my boyfriend. I have 2 kids, 13 and 14 and they really dislike my boyfriend's kids and use words like, "annoying" and "immature" to describe them. Both true. I have been thinking he has ODD but lately, this past year, his school stuff has improved. He has not gotten in trouble as much and is out of academic support (private school). His social stuff has been a little better too, though being at private school, his outside of school interactions are very limited. He has been sheltered immensely by his mother; she infantilizes them. He did not learn to ride a bike until 9 and just learned to tie his shoes at 11. No kidding there. (Sister also learned late but she has none of the same problems he does.) According to the divorce agreement, both parents have to agree to any kind of medical treatment (won't ever happen) so options are limited. Boyfriend is pushing to get one week on, one week off placement arrangement just to provide the kids with more consistency and support because other house is chaotic. In any event, he seems like he has symptoms of several things: ODD, narcissism, ADHD, autism. The larger issue for me is that this kid is absolutely unlikeable. I dread spending time with him. The lying, the screaming fits, the taunting his sister, etc. I find it most unpleasant. We waited almost a year before spending any time with one another (both families) as we know divorce is difficult, etc. I couldn't wait at first and now I don't want to spend any time with them. I feel terrible for saying he is unlikeable but he is. How can I support my boyfriend and make a life with him if I can't stand his son? My boyfriend wants to live together and start a life and I cannot imagine making my kids live with his kids even if it would not be full time (I have my kids full time but he does not). We talk a lot about different tactics and strategies but nothing works. Son could care less about punishment and reduced privileges. He never hangs out with other kids really except occasional birthday party so difficult to "keep him home." It is all so stressful for me because I know it is not his fault, not my boyfriend's "fault" and yet I am not sure I can bring that into my life. No real solution will work because his mom would never consent. She will disagree at the expense of her own children just to be disagreeable. Is there any hope? Anyone have any sage advice? I am so stressed out and don't know what to do. I don't want to hurt my boyfriend's feelings, but really, I can't imagine willingly spending more than the bare minimum time in that situation. As an "outsider" (non-bio parent) I really try not to intervene at all unless in some benign way, like distracting from a blow up or re-directing. As an outsider, I can also sense the tension rising and the meltdowns before my boyfriend can so it, in turn, creates tension in me! Right now they are on spring break and he took a week off work to be with them and I have hardly seen them at all because I dread it. Am I terrible or what? :(
  2. ForeverSpring

    ForeverSpring Well-Known Member

    Whatever is wrong, apparently boyfriend is not interested in finding out. I'm not so sure it's smart to stay in this relationship. This child is likely to stay a huge problem. This kid could have attachment disorder too if his early years (infant-two) were crazy, chaotic, and he was shifted around a lot from one caregiver to another. That really screws up a kid's developing brain. Those kids grow up without a conscience and do dangerous things at times and are not safe to live with. Do you feel safe with him?

    Bottom line: If boyfriend is not going to do any serious exploring, or if he can't because of his mother, I'd think long and hard about sticking with the boyfriend no matter how much you love him. This kid is going to cause nonstop grief. Here is a link for attachment disorder. You can look it over if you like and see if it sounds like it fits. I have an autistic son and he is NOT mean. He's the kindest person I know. Ok, the link: Many attachment disordered kids are adopted so there is reference made to that. But many are also from divorced homes where their early lives were chaotic and filled with various different caregivers with no chance for them feel safe. Anyhow, judge for yourself. A regular therapist would not know how to treat this.
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2014
  3. ForeverSpring

    ForeverSpring Well-Known Member

    After reading this again, I feel you are blaming mom for everything. A normal kid would have learned to ride his bike and tie his shoes on his own. Kids just do those things, just like they learn to talk even if they live in a house where you can hardly get a word in. Also, your boyfriend plays a role in his son's life...why did he not fight harder to get full legal custody? My son fought for his son for 50/50 and it cost him a lot of money and his ex gave him grief, but he won. He now has as much control over his son as his ex does and your boyfriend can go back to court and fight for that as well.

    I tend to not really belief what one divorced person says about another one. It has nothing to do with you..it's just that since you are adversaries, it is common for both sides to label the other person as "crazy" and think of disorders they think each other has. Maybe ex calls your boyfriend "abusisve" even if it's not true (shrug). The real issue is that your boyfriend is not in a position to do anything to help his son since the mother is the primary caregiver.

    If it has been chaos in this boy's life since birth, that is because BOTH parents let this child live in chaos and this could very well be the result.

    I don't think there is anything your boyfriend can do even if he wants to if the mother has legal custody. The best thing he CAN do, if he WANTS to do something, is to take her back to court to fight to legal custody so he can make decisions for his child.

    I wish this child good luck and I truly hope you think about how much you want this. You sound kind and you deserve better in my opinion. This is a mess!!!! Of course, I am not you, but I think you'd better deserve a man without kids at all so you could build your own family and not take on somebody else's diaster-in-the-making.
  4. seashell

    seashell New Member

    Thank you for you response and the link. I know it sounds like I am blaming the mom. She is mostly the problem, but yes, he had two parents. But it is such a long and complicated story. Most families with one person with a personality disorder are chaotic. The non-disordered spouse contributes, of course, but in a way that is a "whirlwind" around "ill" one. He was always walking on eggshells to keep the peace and avoid her rages and rants and manipulations. Now that he has been away from the house for almost 3 years, he is much happier and much stronger. He has a hearing next week to try and get the 50/50 placement. He originally agreed to less than 50-50 because he thought it would be better for the kids at first when he moved out. You know, keep their primary home and routine but now he sees that it was detrimental and a mistake. Family court is like the wild west and he will never get full legal custody in this state. Just won't happen. Some judges in this state have even given joint custody to incarcerated parents, so while this woman has issues, she is not in jail. Family members have said she was always a cold mom and favored the daughter. She would say things like, "The baby needs to be changed" to my boyfriend and "the baby needs a bath." I don't think that is neglect as the son was cared for, but it is indicative of her patterns. This forum is not about ex-bashing or anything and I understand there are many contributing factors to kids' behavior sometimes. I just am struggling with HOW to help my boyfriend and his son. I can be good for them as I am stable and we have a loving relationship (unlike his marriage was) but I appreciate how challenging it might be. My boyfriend has come a very long way with respect to taking a front seat in parenting. He has read a lot, been in therapy himself (still is, going on 4 years!)takes the kids to therapy, initiated custody issues, filed a restraining order against her when she repeatedly, against his knowledge, took the kids to visit a male friend of hers who had been arrested for child pornography and told them to lie about it to him! So he is making a huge effort. You all seem so experienced with living with these types of issues. I have barely scratched the surface of this and am already scared out of my mind of the next 6 years being incredibly stressful and chaotic. I don't want to abandon my boyfriend but want to also be true to myself and my kids. Is there a common ground? And, to be fair, not every waking moment with his son is a disaster. He can be calm. I have seen him enjoy life. He does have some friends. He plays some sports. He will usually answer a question when asked. There are always small infractions of taunting or minor disagreements. He is never what I would call pleasant. He is either very flat or disagreeable. Some I attribute to age--12 year old boys aren't always perfectly social around adults and I get that. I feel all rambly here! Just worried. Worried for both this boy as he grows up and all the rest of us who "live" with him.

    For what it is worth, I don't think he is on the spectrum. I think he has mild ODD, some learning issues, some ADHD, and a touch of something more severe that is in its infancy like NPD or Borderline (BPD). And, I will read the attachment link too! Thanks again for the reply and support.
  5. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Hi seashell. A pretty name! I can't give much specific advice because I'm not reallly competent to do so but it did occur to me reading the thread that sometimes we don't give enough credit to the idea that things change... understandable in your situation! I feel you cannot necessarily know how things might evolve with this boy (who currently has no diagnosis and no specific support/help, right?) over time if you were to make the relationship permanent and move in. It could be for the better. Or the worse. But you don't know. You do know you don't like him because of his unlovely behaviour... all too understandable... and that there is a difficult, immature mother in the picture. But this boy is going to grow up, and before too long. There is always another way of looking at a situation and one way you could look at the situation, possibly, would be to think of it as an opportunity to be a stable influence for this lad in the coming years as he grows into manhood. Or you could look at the immediate present and run away (understandably) :) You will decide. Not an easy choice and my heart goes out to you.