More than I can handle...

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by jumpingoffplace, Nov 3, 2008.

  1. jumpingoffplace

    jumpingoffplace New Member

    Hi everyone. I can't begin to tell you how happy I am to have found this site! I was google searching ODD because I am in desperate need of some guidance. I am engaged to a wonderful man, and have a beautiful three year old little boy. My fiance has an 8 year old boy who has ODD. I am at my wits' end and don't know what to do with Michael (the 8 year old). They spend almost every weekend here as we live in different states for now. All weekend this child is screaming, arguing, throwing objects at us and deliberately breaking the rules. There aren't many rules here; don't hurt each other, respect adults, don't destroy things- very basic stuff. Other than that, the kids are allowed to just be kids. No matter how hard I or his father try, no matter how many time-outs this child gets, the behavior only escalates to the point where I've considered telling my fiance to take him home. This child purposefully wets the bed (wakes up and chooses to lay there instead of getting up to use the toilet) as if to spite us. I've tried every tool I've ever learned in parenting classes, books, online- you name it. Nothing works. This is very disruptive to my little boy who is for the most part very well behaved (though he is 3 so he tests limits sometimes too, but not anywhere near the extent Michael does). My little guy can't sleep because Michael defies all direction and wakes him up at 5am, and is constantly being teased. It takes me 3 days after having them here for a weekend to get my little one back on his schedule. It's become such a major problem that I've told my fiance that until we can get a handle on it that we can't live together. I run a business from home and there is no way I can do that with this going on all the time. Everything that I've worked for would disappear. I've even considered breaking the engagement because I don't know if I can commit to living with this. I feel terrible for feeling this way. I feel like I should be more flexible, more forgiving, more...SOMETHING...My fiance asked me if I loved Michael...and I want to...I really do, but his behavior makes it so hard. I feel like all I do is correct him every second he is here and I hate that. There is no "fun" when he is here...there is only fighting, correcting, time-outs and then we start over again. I've tried doing fun things with him, but whenever we take him somewhere he gets out of control. My fiance and I have different parenting styles, but we are learning to merge them into something that we are both comfortable with. For instance, I will not spank a child, where my fiance was- until he decided to stop about 2 months ago. But, he has the tolerance for this that I lack. I suppose that is because he's dealt with it for a lot longer than I have. I really feel terrible for being so impatient, for not being able to handle this...What can I do? I'm open to any and all suggestions from anyone. Please help! Thanks so much! ~J
  2. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    Hi and Welcome!! It sounds like a very frustrating situation. First, I would suggest that both you and your fiance read the book "The Explosive Child" by Ross Greene. Second, I think maybe your fiance should take his son to a counselor and determine if this is just a reaction to him "losing" his dad to himself. He must be having a lot of mixed emotions. Thirdly, it might be a good idea to have neuropsychological testing done on him. This might sound "way out there", but it is to everyone's benefit- yours and the childs. Without knowing the details, ie did he just start acting this way when you and your fiance get close, where is his bio MOM- did she quickly leave his life, it is hard to know what is behind his behavior. We can't diagnose here anyway since we are not experts. But, many parents here have had similar experiences and can offer support and some insight.

    Again, welcome and hang in there! I would suggest looking at the FAQ board and doing a signature so we all can become more familiar with your situation. Things seem to be a little slower than usual tonight but others will come around.

    If you can offer a little more details it would be helpful in pointing you in the right direction. But first, the book might help a lot. Is your fiance open to getting help and/or reading a book about what might help his child?
  3. Wiped Out

    Wiped Out Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I second getting a copy of The Explosive Child. Has your fiance said if this is new behavior or is this more recent? It sounds like there is a lot going on and I would recommend taking him to a nuero-psychologist and child psychiatrist.

    Glad you found us, sorry you needed to-hugs.
  4. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Hi Jumping,
    First off, I would suggest not having the boys room together when M. stays overnight. Your son needs his space and sleep.
    Second, I would make an appointment with-a psychiatric for an evaluation. It is not normal to lie in bed and urinate when the bathroom is 10 ft away.
    Third, I would do allergy testing.
    Fourth, I would find out if there is a history of any of these behaviors on your fiance's side of the family.
    Take care.
  5. KTMom91

    KTMom91 Well-Known Member

    Hello and welcome!

    Speaking as a former wicked stepmother...does he do this at home? Or does he save up all this delightful behavior for you? I agree with having him tested, to determine what's going on with him. Once you have some answers, you can begin to get some kind of a handle on things.
  6. hearts and roses

    hearts and roses Mind Reader

    I agree with what everyone has posted, but I wanted to tell you that I think it's awesome and wonderful and great and righteous that you told your fiance that you could not live with him until something is done about this situation with his son.

    Kudos to you for laying down a healthy boundary for yourself and your son! That is great. You are so right for not taking that step when things are so unsettled and you have so much to lose.

    By exposing your son to this type of mishmash parenting and Michael's behavior, you're setting yourself up for some difficulties with your son and I think it's great that you are able to see that NOW, rather than ignore and hope for the best, as so many people in love tend to do.

    I hope that you and your fiance are able to work things out and get Michael the help he needs so you can plan a future together.
  7. mrscatinthehat

    mrscatinthehat Seussical

    I came into the situation with my difficult child's as a step parent. It can be very hard when there are different parenting styles. First thing I learned (and it was very difficult) was to let my husband be the bad guy. If he couldn't, wouldn't do it then we talked about it. Not in front of the kids but I gave him clues as to what he needed to look for. It is a long road. But that was the first thing. It didn't always work (I tend to want to control most situations). I had to radically change my parenting style. I was certainly not happy about that but did it to save my own sanity.


  8. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    You seem like a very nice person. Here is my opinion. Please don't take it the wrong way. I think you are very caring. But I doubt if any "right" discipline will make this child be able to behave the way a "normal" kid does, at least not for a long time. Ok, here I go.

    Well, I first of all want to say that the child obviously has more than ODD going on. ODD rarely stands alone. Secondly, I'd like to say that I can't imagine him choosing you over his son. You say you don't live in the same state. How well do you know each other? If you marry this man, the child will be a part of your family. Do you really want this because the child is going to need a lot of help (not just discipline, but help, before he can behave better. Or it may not happen that he improves as much as you hope). I have some questions for you that will help us help you. If you don't know the answers, fiance should tell you the answers (in my opinion he should have filled you in on his child completely). Ok, here goes:

    1/Who evaluated him? Has he ever had a complete intensive evaluation by a neuropsychologist? My guess is no. If not, I highly recommend one. They are fantastic diagnosticians, much better than pediatricians, therapists, social workers, even better than many child psychiatrists. Is this child on medication?

    2/Are there any psychiatric disorders or substance abuse problems on this child's family tree (either side). Some mental illnesses are inherited. Substance abuse is a red flag that the person who abuses has a mood disorder and may be self-medicating. These details are very important to bring with you when a child is being evaluated.

    3/How was Michael's early development? Did he speak on time? Make good eye contact? Cuddle? Can he socialize appropriately with his peers? Does he have any sensitivities to loud noise, changes from one activity to another, certain textures, foods? Wetting his pants is often NOT a behavior problem, but a sensory issue. It sounds like he doesn't mind being wet. That alone is a red flag. Perhaps he is somewhere on the autism spesctrum. This isn't a bad kid. Something is the matter with him and he's not getting the right kind of help.

    I would think hard about whether or not you are up to taking on this child. There is no guarantee that he will ever be "typical." And you have your son to consider. Also, think about it--would you chose even a man you love over your child if you were forced to chose?

    I think the two of you need to live in the same state for a while land get family counseling before you get married. in my opinion it will be a disaster if the issue of the child is not resolved. (((Hugs))) Good luck.
  9. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    Welcome to the board. I ditto getting a copy of The Explosive Child.

    I can understand why you don't want to live together while your fiance's son is so out of control......and can understand why you're having 2nd thoughts about the engagment. It does not make you a bad person. Parenting a difficult child is an enormous challenge for a bio parent who has done it from day one. It's an even bigger challenge for a step parent who is walking into the situation. Doesn't mean that it can't be done. Just that you're wise for really thinking hard before taking that leap.

    Is the child in treatment of any kind? Is it working? Is your fiance involved with the treatment program? (if not he might want to change that and become more pro-active)

    Tie a knot at the end of your rope and hold on. You've landed in the most wonderful place in the world. I stumbled in almost 10 yrs ago and have never left. lol :)

  10. Fran

    Fran Former desparate mom

    Hello and welcome. I have to say that I am incredibly impressed with the realistic spin you have on this very difficult situation.
    Children who are difficult and have behavior issues don't wake up one day having it all pulled together. It is a long arduous process that sometimes wears down the love and good intentions that a step would bring to the relationship.

    I think it is wise to work on creating a plan with SO and making sure you advocate for your child. He is entitled to a life that is safe and a home that is stable.

    Hopefully your fiance will find some answers to what's going on with his son and work with you on a plan on how to handle difficult child with love, and provide a decent home for all the children in your blended families.

    Be protective of your business, your child and your peace of mind. The love you have is a good foundation but without a plan it isn't enough. In my humble opinion.
  11. flutterbee

    flutterbee Guest

    I agree with The Explosive Child. It has helped many of us tremendously. Another book recommended (though I haven't read it) that members have had good results with is Love and Logic. I believe Love and Logic has a website, too. Susiestar knows more about that.

    I totally understand being apprehensive about living with difficult child. I'm the bioparent of mine and there are times *I* often don't want to live with her. ;)

    I admire and respect you for recognizing your boundaries and recognizing that this is something you may not want to live with. You and your DF (dear fiance) have to be on the same page and I firmly believe that he should be responsible for all discipline as it is his son. Many kids resent a step-parent coming in and making rules and doling out consequences. I know I did as a kid. *Hated* it and I made sure everyone in the house knew it. (I was 11 when my mom remarried.) For our kiddos with issues, it can be 10 times worse. However, that doesn't mean that you can't talk to your DF about the behavior, how it affects you and your child and how it should be handled in a private conversation. Just that he should be the one to act on it.

    I hope you'll find the support and advice you need here. Welcome to the board. It's a wonderful community for parents of our kids.
  12. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    Hi and Welcome! I think you are very wise to look into this more before you actually get married.

    The website for Love and Logic is - and even the info for teachers was helpful to my husband and I. This is a very common-sense approach to things, with an emphasis on natural consequences and nurturing a loving bond between parent and child.

    Is Michael this way when he is not with you? Does he live with his mom and spend his weekends with dad? Or is mom even in the picture? Was there any substance abuse or alcohol used during the pregnancy? Those (sub abuse or alcohol can result in a child who CAN'T learn, as opposed to a child who is being defiant or whatever). Do you know what Michael is like in school or daycare? Is he better when he is in his routine, or does it matter?

    I strongly feel that your DF needs to do ALL the discipline/time-out/etc... for a LONG time, well up until after teh wedding. It will cause a lot of problems with you developing a relationship with Michael, and in turn, YOU need to do all the discipline etc... for your son.

    You need to assess what is going on, and if DF is going to be proactive, get Michael assessed and evaluated, or not. And if that is what you can handle.

    I wish you the best,
  13. jumpingoffplace

    jumpingoffplace New Member

    Hello all,

    Before I begin, I ask all of your who have been so kind in your responses not to be offended by my trying to answer everyone's questions in one reply. Unfortunately I didn't receive emails as you answered and am now happily swamped. :D Thank you, each and every one of you for taking the time to answer and for all of the wisdom and kindness you offered.

    Ok, now on to the questions...

    Micheal's mother is not in the picture. My fiance has had full custody of him since he was 1 1/2. In all of that time she has only seen him a handful (if that) of times. She doesn't call, write, acknowledge holidays or birthdays. Nothing. A few years after his divorce from Micheal's mother he became involved with, and lived with a woman who was abusive to Micheal. My fiance left as soon as he realized what was happening, which was 10 months later. Micheal was four. I don't know much about his development, like whether he hit certain milestones at the appropriate age or not.

    Micheal is very, very intelligent- his IQ scores are amazing. He has been evaluated by psychiatrists who gave him the diagnosis of ODD and ADHD. They are also now beginning to discuss Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). His dad and I were talking about his family and I learned that his father and brother both have chemical imbalances. A lightbulb went on in my mind. Since this can often be hereditary I suggested to my DF that he get Micheal tested. He says he is going to.

    DF is not as proactive with Micheal as I would have hoped. He kind of "goes with" whatever the councelor says, even if he doesn't think it's right. Micheal is like this every where- home, school, here and out in public. My DF mother and I have discussed it at length, as have DF and I. This is nothing new, unfortunately.

    He is currently taking Ativan.

    As far as the bed wetting...His father, in a desperate attempt to change things, told Micheal that if he didn't start getting up to go to the bathroom instead of peeing in his bed that he was going to buy him Goodnights, and explained what they were. This was 2 weeks ago and Micheal hasn't had an "accident" since. I would LOVE to believe he wasn't purposefully wetting the bed, but this almost seems to prove it, though I could be wrong. It won't be the first time and certainly won't be the last, lol.

    When they are here on the weekends the boys sleep on seperate levels of the house, my little guy downstairs, and Micheal upstairs. Micheal is getting up at the crack of dawn, creeping downstairs and waking my boy up. I don't think it is a good idea for them to share a room either- not even for a weekend!

    (sigh) I am so very stressed out about this whole thing...My first priority is my little guy and protecting the world he has come to know and trust. I can't let Micheal swoop in and turn it upside down for him. And I don't expect for a second for my fiance to choose me over his son- lord knows if someone asked me to choose them over my son I would have some very choice words to say! The truth is, no matter how much I love them, love isn't enough (yes, Fran I agree!). Unfortunately our love will fade if we are under constant strain because of this issue. I will resent him, and in turn he will resent me for not being patient enough. I'm trying to look at this from all possible angles, good and bad.

    Unfortunately, I have limits on what I can handle...and I know, as much as I hate to admit it, that I can't live the way we do on weekends every day of my life. Not only that, but I can't let my son live with it either. My little guy absolutely amazes me with how well behaved he is, how smart and compassionate he is at the tender age of 3. (I know, I'm biased lol) I fear Micheal living here would change my little guy in ways I wouldn't be able to repair. I've voiced all of this to DF and all he says is "It's just going to take time." and "It'll be ok."

    He is in a hurry for us to live together...I'm not. I'm going to be moving in a few weeks (I bought a house) and he keeps asking when they can move im- as if when we live together Micheal will suddenly "get it" which I know is impossible. I love DF but he really needs to get his head out of the clouds!

    DF and I have known each other since we were 14, we went to school together. We re-connected a year ago and have been together ever since. He has been taking care of his mother until she moves in with his older brother, which is why he is in another state.

    ARGH! I want to do the right thing...for everyone involved...and I don't know what that is. Micheal has been going to school telling people that he is "finally going to have a real mom." And he gushes to his grandmother about how much he loves it here. I don't want to hurt him, or DF. But, I know that if I don't handle this with my brain instead of my heart that the pain involved for all of us could be a lot worse later on.

    Again, to all of you...thank you sooooo much for all your kind words, thoughts, questions, suggestions... I can use every one of them- and will certainly be picking up the Explosive Child the next time I'm at the bookstore!

    (((hugs to all)))
    ~ J