My boyfriend's difficult child

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by grlygrl13, Jul 22, 2012.

  1. grlygrl13

    grlygrl13 New Member

    Hi all

    I am new here and could really use some advice. Sorry this will be long, but I am not sure where else to turn.

    My live in boyfriend has a just turned 10 yr old son. We get his son every other weekend. His son was diagnosed a few years ago (after the first time I broke up with my boyfriend because of his son and he snapped out of denial) with ADHD and ODD. He takes seroquel and something for ADHD to try and control his behavior. I have never been involved in his treatment and his dad isn't really either (we live 100 miles away), I do know that the child isn't able to go to regular school. He goes to a classroom that the school district busses him to where he goes to school with 3 other kids. This is due to his behavior. He has been kicked out of 6 daycares in the last 5 years due to behavior.

    I have a 12 yr old son that I have always parented with rules and etiquette. So when boyfriend moved in this year, I started demanding his son also follow the rules when he is at our house. Well, it seems basic rules (no interrupting, no head on table during dinner, no kicking people under the table, etc) were too much for his son to handle. He started having meltdowns and issues at school and then his mom and my boyfriend insisted that we go back to the way things were when he would visit his dad (basically he gets to do whatever he wants). This has caused a great deal of unrest in my house and I get anxiety leading up to the weekends he comes here because I know it's just going to big problems. He basically only wants to sit in front of the tv all weekend (which I can't stand) and also his dad allows him to play modern warfare/call of duty games - which I tend to think isn't a good idea due to his anger and aggression issues. I also don't like the message this sends to my 12 yr old son.

    I also am a little scared of his son, he stares at me a lot and when I look at him, he hides behind whatever he is near - furniture, walls, etc. When I look away, he stares again. He also flaunts to me things that he knows I don't want him to do but his dad is ok with, usually with an evil smile. When I told my boyfriend recently I was scared of his son - a hard thing to do anyway - he dismissed it and told me I am being ridiculous. I am afraid him dividing us between a kid that isn't getting what he wants will be bad news for me one day.

    His dad seems to live in denial - he keeps saying that this is society's problem because of everyone wanting perfect kids so he just ignores my concerns. It's to the point I am thinking of breaking up with him again as I don't want another 8 years of this.

    I'd appreciate any advise or words of wisdom on how to deal with this. I am not that familiar with these disorders so I am not sure what to do.
  2. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    My first thought is that you don't understand that you have to change your thinking if you want to stay with this man. And it may not be a good fit.

    1/difficult child's do not do what typical children do, even if you drum it into their heads. They require relaxing your standards and parenting styles yet setting boundaries.

    2/He is NOT your child and you aren't even a stepmother. It is not in my opinion your place to discipline him. If I were a mother and some live in girlfriend were parenting my child, I'd be pretty angry. The parenting needs to be between the father and the mother and it's a big problem that you and your boyfriend see this child in different ways.

    3/This child may affect your child.

    4/Boyfriends and their kids are a package deal. I assume you knew what you signed up for when you moved in.

    5/This is another way of #1. You can't treat this child like your child. It won't work. If you and your boyfriend are thinking of getting married, it may help to get family counseling to solve the problem. If you can't, it may be better if you don't marry him. So many SO's believe they love a man so they can automatically accept the kids, but it doesn't always work that way and you have no rights to this child.

    I would suggest that hub get another opinion/diagnosis for his son or see a neuropsychologist to see if there are any changes in his diagnosis and to get more hints on how to parent him. But he is a handful now and is likely to get to be a bigger handful as he gets older. The only bright side here is that he is only with you every other weekend.

    If that is too much for you to handle, perhaps you should break it off (or go to therapy to talk about it with a neutral party). It really MAY be too much for you. You are not used to "differently wired" children...they come with no handbook and they defy the rules. And you often can not get them to do even the little things you want them to do.

    It is a hard decision to commit to a life with a man who has a differently wired child. Are you really up for it?

    You have our support no matter what. Welcome to the board :)
  3. grlygrl13

    grlygrl13 New Member

    I don't understand what I have to do, that's the point of me being here and my post. I AM trying to learn more and understand.

    We were actually supposed to move 1200 miles away and I said to stay closer for his son's sake. They moved into my house. I suggested that if he doesn't want to parent him when he is here, they should stay in a hotel or at his brother's house back where the child lives instead. I don't want to parent him, but I don't want him running around my house destroying things and ruining every outing we go on either. I am angry that his dad is not more involved with his treatment because he doesn't know the answers to anything - he basically let's him do whatever his mom won't let him do because he's mad at her over custody issues. Trust me, she'd be happy to know I enforce her rules here when he doesn't. He teaches his son to keep the secrets from his mom to do whatever he wants here and it's out of control.

    The answer is probably to just end the relationship at this point but I thought I'd try one last time to understand it. We have talked about marriage but I will not marry him with things like this and he knows it. I suggested to him we go to counseling and his response was that he wasn't going to go somewhere to pay someone to just listen to them take my side. That's why I thought coming somewhere like this where someone else could teach me about it and what to do would help.
  4. ksm

    ksm Well-Known Member

    [ That's why I thought coming somewhere like this where someone else could teach me about it and what to do would help.[/QUOTE]

    Is it possible that you and biomom can convince your boyfriend that maybe having several appts with a counselor together (who is familiar with the child) to come to some guidelines for parenting the child as a united team? Instead of making it about them... make it about you... you want to learn how to improve your relationship with the child, you want to know what is expected of you as the girlfriend. It seems like the boy might need more help than he is getting... and dad needs to be on board with some rules and guidelines too. It may not be the same rules you expect of your DS, but rules you can live with when he is at your house.

    I am concerned that biodad was willing to move 1200 miles away... it doesn't sound like he has his priorities straight. Sorry I am not mre help. KSM
  5. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    I could write paragraphs and paragraphs in response to your post. They would all be heartfelt and caring. on the other hand...the bottom line is "break it off" just like you said. You and your son do not deserve the stress of trying to prevent major problems because the other boy has not been properly parented. You can't change a decade of poor parenting in a few years........probably not in another decade. Sorry. That is what my experience indicates. Hugs DDD
  6. exhausted

    exhausted Active Member

    Hello an welcome GG. You are in a tough place and at a crossroads. I think it is great that you are seeking answers. These children are tough. I have been a teacher for 25 years and even taught a behavior disordered class for many years. I have raised a child with ADHD and now am really stuggling with a 17 yrs old difficult child. I have a supportive husband-though he depends on me to guide him, and it has still made our life very, very difficult. Even in the best of situations, these kids heck on a family. That said I have some questions:

    How will your SO change from a father who just gives in to a child and makes excuses, transform if he is unwilling to get help?
    How will he be as an example to your boy?(Not to mention the issues of dealing with a difficult child "step-brother)
    There are many great books that can help-will he read them and work with you?
    How does he respond to your fear and anxiety? You will have this about other things in the future and we all need a supportive partner when this is happenening?
    Would he attend a free support group from NAMI or CHADD?
    Is he there when the boy visits?
    How will he respond if you have marital trouble and need to get help?
    How do you really feel about his willingness to move hundreds of miles away from his boy?
    How do you feel about his unresolved anger towards his ex and his manipulating the boy to keep secrets?

    Next I want you to know that there is help and these kids can get better but it requires committment, lack of denial, willingness to forgive and move on, the ability to tailor rules and move in small steps to social functioning, compassion, and consistancy. He can't do what an average, non impaired peer could do-just can't-he is neurologically impaired. He really needs all adults on the same page working towards the same goals to make decent progress. He will never out grow the issues, he will always have to be working on them and most likely has other mental health issues (ADHD doesn't stand alone and most teens with this develop some depression and untreated-they become self-medicators). The statistics also say that legal issues because of their impulsivity are very common.

    If you decide you want this man and his boy, your first task is to get to support so you can learn together. You can find info here, but it is not enough. You need face to face help. You are in danger of becoming very codependant if you have to beg and bargain with your SO. It's something us warrier mom's have to guard against because it just happens as caregivers. If he won't sign on....maybe you will want to sign-off. This is harsh I know, but I know the pit falls. If I had a choice, I would never sign on for what has happened in my life. While I have gained much wisdom, I have also lost years of my life to struggles, the development of an autoimmune disease that is triggered by stress, and I have grieved over and over again as I learn more and more that my hopes for my difficult child and our life have to been dashed and changed. I know I am not alone in this.

    Please keep posting. Sometimes the responses are slow on the weekend. I know I have apost and hardly any responses in the substance abuse forum-week days bring more help. Sometimes we get scared off by responses but people here do mean to help and have experience. ((Hugs)) This is tough!
  7. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Hi and welcome, I'm glad you found us. You are in a tough spot. I agree with everything that Exhausted has told you, it was a well thought out response and gives you an honest appraisal and questions to ask yourself. It's difficult to imagine your boyfriend changing his way of thinking to include stopping the manipulations with the ex, refusal to find healthy ways to parent his son and unwillingness to seek professional help with you and for me, most importantly as a partner, to listen to your concerns and fears. As an observer, without the emotional ties, there is much stacked on the side of walking away from this. Not even so much because of the boy, but because of his Dad and his avoidance and denial. I feel bad for you, you're in such a hard place, one of those life choices none of us want to make, but have to.

    It sounds to me like you really know what the right thing to do is, and perhaps hearing it said from us will support you to do what you may already know is the best solution for you and your son. If you were to do a pro and con list, with at least what you've mentioned here, your con list would be quite a bit longer. And, as Exhausted has already said quite well, living with a difficult child has the potential of creating an environment which is severe in it's level of stress. That is a lot to take on and a lot to expose your son to.

    Only you can make this difficult decision, given all the facts as you understand them. My belief is that somewhere inside ourselves, we have an intrinsic knowledge of what the best possible life path is. And, it's when we override that knowledge that we get into trouble. I would encourage you to look at the whole picture, look down the road a little and ask yourself if you believe any of this will realistically change and how you will feel if it doesn't. Sometimes the most honorable thing to do is to let go and walk away. But, I am not in your shoes, I don't love this man and have memories with him, life doesn't always offer the easy answer, you have to weigh it all for yourself. It's that vast gray area which isn't quite right or isn't quite wrong that makes it so challenging. I empathize with you, I send you warm wishes for clarity to come to you and hugs along the way...........
  8. Ktllc

    Ktllc New Member

    I've been a mother of a difficult child for only 5 years and the toughest is probably ahead of us. When I say toughest, I don't mean I'm worried sick. I just know we have LOTS of work to do for my son to be a functioning happy adult in the future. And this implies a few things: I know there is a problem, I've already started the diagnosis process (and this really doesn't end at a couple evaluations) and I have services set up for him. It is MY son and my husband is on board 100%. And yet, it is VERY hard.
    Can you commit yourself and your own son to a man who does not realize the amount of work his son needs? Who dismisses your fears, opinion, needs within your own house? Do you want to expose your son to this kind of chaos?
    If I were you, I would choose self-preservation. Your boyfriend and yourself are not on the same page on a HUGE part of your/his life. This is simply big trouble ahead.
    I'm sorry if it is not what you wanted to hear, but you have one luxury I did not have: you can choose.
    There is lots of joy in parenting a difficult child, but you and your SO have to be a solid team.
  9. GoingSolo

    GoingSolo New Member

    GG13, I'm really sorry to hear about your struggle. My heart goes out to you for the difficult times ahead, and the tough decisions you will have to make.

    I occasionally browse this forum, but have never posted. This will be my first post. I come from a similiar situation as yours, but years ahead of you. Something I hope you will understand before it's too late, is that Parental Guilt and Denial + difficult child with- ADHD diagnosis = Total Destruction.

    Parental Guilt and Denial is a HUGE hurdle. If his son is only 10 years old now, it will get extremely worse. The difficult child will soon realize, crystal clear, that parental guilt and denial is the most effective tool in his toolbox to destroy everything around him. It is literally a license to kill. He will push the envelope until something terrible happens to himself or someone else in the family, or anyone else for that matter. Guess what? It doesn't stop there, because he'll get away with that too, and do it all over again. The bigger the boy the bigger the problem, and the teen years are coming. Be prepared for major issues at school, fighting, stealing, lying, vandalism, drugs, cops, manipulation, heart break, financial restitution, lawyer bills, and many more. by the way, you are enemy #1. You have a target on your back, and anything you own. Your son is enemy #2. The difficult child will run the house, you will walk on egg shells. If you do anything to try and stop it, you will get OWNED, and your boyfriend will protect his son from anything.

    The first thing for you to know is that your boyfriend's denial has nothing to do with the relationship he has with you, however, it is likely that hanging on to his parental denial and guilt is more important to him than hanging on to you. Try not to take this rejection personally. Letting go of denial and guilt will probably be the hardest thing your boyfriend would ever do in his whole life. Don't count on it. HE WILL NOT DO IT FOR YOU!!! He has to do it for himself and his son.

    Sorry for the doom and gloom. I don't like saying it. My situation hurt me badly. I always thought that if my girlfriend would just open her eyes a little bit, she would get it. When something MAJOR would happen, I would think, this is it! This is when she will "get it". It never happened. There were always excuses. Everyone else in the world was to blame, especially others in the family. Perhaps your situation really isn't as bad as mine was. Not sitting still at the dinner table, funny stares, and evil smiles sound easy to me.

    You have a son of your own, you need to think about what effects this relationship will bring him. Your number 1 responsiblity is taking care of YOUR son, not your love life.

    As a side note, I sometimes wonder that a diagnosis of "ADHD" is a way to facilitate a parents denial when a more severe personality disorder is at play. For example, if a more severe diagnosis was given, perhaps the doctors giving the diagnosis would also be "the problem", and the difficult child would have no treatment at all. The parent may seek another doctor that would give them a diagonsis they could stomach.
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2012
  10. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I strongly agree that "ADHD" is often used when much worse stuff is going on. When ODD is tacked on it is often in my opinion even worse...doctors don't like to scare parents too badly. Violent kids, kids who steal, etc. have more going on than ADHD.

    Ok, I'll step back now :)
  11. Calamity Jane

    Calamity Jane Well-Known Member

    Run. For your son's sake, especially. Your boyfriend is not going to want to lose you over this, because he doesn't think it's a big deal, so he's going to try to convince you to stay. Keep your son's welfare in the forefront of your mind when making any decisions. I'm sorry you have to go through this, it's hard.
  12. flutterby

    flutterby Fly away!

    In my opinion, that tells you everything you need to know about your boyfriend.