new and in need of advice please ( sorry -long)

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by tunaq, Jan 6, 2009.

  1. tunaq

    tunaq New Member

    hello everybody. i come here as a mom /step mom at my wits end with a marriage on the brink of divorce, trying to find some help from anybody willing!

    so a little background:

    Me: 26

    husband: 33

    DSS: 13 almost 14 (end of the month) (i guess he would be the challenging child)

    daughter:10- 1/2 months

    Married: 3 years, 3 months and 5 days

    all total husband and I have been together for 7+ years. i used to adore DSS. he was the sweetest kid you could ask for. i used to send husband out on boys nights and stay home with his son on the weekends and watch movies and order pizza, you know, fun stuff! i would send him to bed and make sure the second his dad got home, he went to tuck in his son! it was great. as time went on i was the one who would spend hours at the kitchen table (or even my desk here at work) with him doing his homework and helping him in trouble areas. it truly was a great relationship.

    as he got older his grades were still dropping and his attitude got worse, but i thought it was just a phase. he would have good days and bad days. his grades were low because even after spending hours at the table helping him, he would not turn in his school work. i would talk to him and tell him how important it was for him to turn it in and do well in school, and how it also hurt me when he did not turn his stuff in because i spent so much time helping him, that it made me feel like he did not appreciate it. things improved for a bit, then husband and i got married, a few months later, we moved out of our apartment into a house, and not too ong after that his son moved in with us. his mom could not get him under control with school work and she was too busy raising her niece and 2 nephews to take care of her son the way she needed to be. we took him in, changed his school and for the first time in a while, he was eligible for middle school sports! as soon as wrestling season was over though, it went back down hill. when he was eligible, i was chekcing his grades online, daily. i made him prove his work was done and yes, i was a "drill sergeant" so to speak over it, but he stayed eligible. once he proved it was possible, i stopped doing all the things i did. he needed to be able to do it on his own, but his mom and dad also needed to step in and fill their roles too, not just me. eventually our talks and everything stopped because i got a better response from a wall. once i backed off, he went back to barely passing and under a 1.0 gpa. school is just the tip of the iceberg though.

    DSS literally has zero respect for women. the reason i say that is because when husband and i first got together, when DSS would really act up, his mom would call husband to deal with it (that finally stopped about 2 years into the relationship). He back talks like no other! HE is SOOOOO lazy! he was told to clean his room 3 weeks ago and it is still not done. nobody makes him do it. he gets told to and that is it! there was one night about a year ago now, i asked him to clean the front bathroom (the one he and guests use). i had a thing of bubble bath in the cabinet and the rest was decor and bathroom stuff. he told me he did not see why he should have to clean a bathroom everybody used. i explained he was the one who used it most, we rarely have guests and the only time i used it was maybe once a month to take a bath and i cleaned up after myself, otherwise his dad and i used ours. his response to me was " well if it's my bathroom, why is your stuff in there too?" i quickly solved that by taking everything of mine or for guests out! i told him if he wanted it to be solely his own, he could have it that way and he was responsible for the upkeep. the last time it was cleaned well was over 6 months ago, when i refused to allow my brother in law and his girlfriend who were staying with us to see the filth hole! oh and i had to sterilize the bathtub after daughter got very sick and i had to give her a bath, but i had to bleach the tub before i would allow her near it (a couple weeks ago).

    i keep the doors closed to all the rooms because daughter is crawling and pulling herself up more. this past weekend she crawled in to DSS room and he and husband were playing on the ps2. i have told DSS in the past that if he was going to be allowed pocket knives, they had to stay off the floor out of daughter's reach. sure enough daughter crawled in and i looked to see her reaching for a pocket knife on the floor. i snatched it p before she could reach it and tossed it onto a table as i pulled her back by me. well when it hit the table a wire in the ps2 shook loose a bit and messed up the sound. both husband and DSS proceeded to gripe and whine at me about messing up their game!
    naturally husband and i ended up in a fight. husband's take was: yes, the knife should not have been on the floor, but it was closed and his son realized it the same time i did and said "you probably should not play with that." my take was: omg, you are griping at me about the ps2, when there is a knife on the floor at all with an infant in the house! after numerous back and forth arguements we agreed that i would try to relax a little more and not push the panic button or be so quick to get angry with issues involving DSS. DSS would try harder to listen and be respectful to me, and be mindful of things that could harm or affect daughter.

    Then came yesterday! I stayed home from work because daughter was ill and very very clingy to me. DSS was on his last day of Christmas vacation. We hung out and watched movies, just like the old days. everything was going great! DSS's cousin kept texting him and finally called. the next thing i know DSS is on the phone with his grandma telling her to come get him. When he hung up, i asked him if he thought he didnot have to ask permission first to take off and do as he pleased. i explained he always calls his dad to ask permission if we were both working and i deserved the same respect if i was the one at home with him. he asked permission finally and i told him he could go, but only because his grandma was already on her way, but next time ask first. i also told him since it was a school night and as punishment for not asking first he had to be home no later than 7:00pm. he tried to make an excuse about well he may not be able to get a ride home. i responded with " you have a cell phone you whined and begged for that your mom bought. if you cannot get somebody there to give you a lift home by 7:00pm, call your dad and he will get you from wherever as long as it is before 7:00." i also explained it was time for him to take on some responsibility for himself, and i was putting full responsibility for him getting home by 7:00pm, solely on him. i personally don't think that is asking for much seeing as he had atleast 4 options to get home. husband came home from work and i told him about DSS goingong to see his cousin and the whole 7:00pm thing. 7:00pm rolls around and nothing. i got a little angry and told husband " i told him to be home no later than 7:00 and gave him plenty of options to get home." husband instantly gets mad and tells me to lay off. it is only 7:21 and i better not say anything about him being late when he gets home because i better not ruin a good night over that. 21 minutes is not too late and i beter back off or pack up
    because if i get mad or say anything that is the end." husband then picks up the phone and calls him to find out they were at home depot and finally on their way to the house. naturally it lead to another fight with husband for undermining my authority (which happens often).

    husband says i am too hard and expect too much from a almost 14 year old boy.
    i say he needs to set boundaries and make DSS stick to them and have serious consequences for not listening, but most importantly we need to have a united front now (no undermining each other) or our daughter does not stand a chance and neither do we.

    when it came to it and when things were good, we did everything from taking away privledges and giving rewards for good, to making him spend the day/ night grounded to writing sentences as to what he did wrong and how he could have done things differently, all with no positive outcome and no lesson learned.

    i am literally about to give up and cannot stand being around my DSS. i love him but i just can't take it. i have suggested family counseling and it gets brushed off. i have talked and fought and drained myself repeatedly over this mess. husband gets mad if i refrain from getting involved in DSS life and if i try to discipline him or tell husband there is a problem, it gets tuyrned around to i am the one with the problem and "hate DSS," which is totally untrue. i just no longer have a desire to be around him because i am tired of the fighting and the total lack of respect and being blamed for everyhting.

    TIA! sincerely,

    "sick of being wrong"
  2. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Ok, ok. Welcome aboard. I am going to be blunt. Your husband is going to chose his son over you. Ok, here's my other thoughts. Please don't take offense. My first thought is that you are getting into power struggles with DSS that aren't necessary. Here goes the rest:

    It sound like you have a very confrontational relationship with this young teenager. You give him an absolute and he talks back (common at his age). Then you draw the line in the sand again and he crosses it. There seems to be a lack of understanding or mutual respect. Maybe DSS can't do the school work without help and that's why his grades fell when you withdrew your help. Maybe he has a learning disability or ADHD orsomething else. Has he ever been tested? If not, I recommend a neuropsychologist evaluation.

    This child is going through a lot. It's not fun to be a kid and have Dad remarry and kids often act out against it. I know because I remarried and my kids hated it and rebelled against hub's authority. So we decided *I* would do the parenting with d-ex and he'd just kind of be there as a friend and helpmate. Things got a lot better after that. You aren't this boy's mother.

    I really think this will never be resolved without serious family counseling. You sound very negative about your DSS and unwilling to look at yourself as possibly being too rigid. I don't know you, of course, but you do sound like you could be. I've raised five kids and if a 14 year old was at Grandmas (as opposed to at a mall with his buddies) and he called me late, it wouldn't be any big deal to me. I'd call HIM. I'd guess, "He got caught up with his cousin and he forgot." I'm easygoing that way and it works pretty well because teens ARE spacey and all about themselves, even the best of them. All of my kids were a bit mouthy and forgetful at his age. You knew where he was and that he wasn't in danger so to me I don't see the big deal, especially if husband was ok with it.

    My suggestion besides counseling would be to let husband do the parenting since it is his child, and you don't really sound as if you are liking him too much right now. Also, I don't think stepparents should have equal say so in parenting a child (that may not be a popular opinion, but the kids have enough on their plate having to adjust to Mom or Dad's new spouse--they can really grow to resent a stepparent who tries to take the place of a father or a mother). My hub is still good friends with my now grown kids, but he never did parent them. If I had an issue, I called my ex. My kids really responded well to that. They were much better behaved after hub stopped trying to parent my kids, a big and welcome surprise!

    Anyhoooo, others will come along. I hope you can salvage the marriage, but I see lots of blame on all fronts, including yours. I usually speak my mind so I hope there's no offense taken ;)
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2009
  3. Fran

    Fran Former desparate mom

    The life of a stepmother is thankless. You have responsibilities with no power or appreciation.
    At this point husband is in high parent protection mode to the detriment of everything else. He feels his son is being persecuted. I'm not saying I agree but that seems to be the instinctual response.

    You are within your right to say that husband and you must set the rules jointly. If they are broken then husband is to deal with it. Right down to the cleaning.
    If these two are not interested in your parenting input then it's wise to leave it on husband's door step.

    Suggest family mediation or go to your member of clergy but encourage both to be involved with the solutions and not make this a "yours vs mine" scenario.

    I must say I would step back and not involve myself in disciplining.
    Regardless you get no respect. Might as well not work yourself into a state trying to get heard.
    If father doesn't respect your input then there is no way the difficult son will. I only suggest joint rule making because it's your house too. It's a baby girl's home too.

    I would also suggest some books on blended families so that you can understand the dynamics that coming with a family who are not cohesive.

    So sorry to hear husband isn't being a support.
  4. robinm1922

    robinm1922 One day at a time

    Hello and welcome to the board.
    Your dss sounds a lot like my daughter (difficult child) did before she was diagnosed. I am also remarried and my husband is wonderful but not as understanding with daughter as he is with me. I had to ask him to back a way so to speak and let me handle my daughter, she was very resistant to him and the more he got after her the worse she got. Since he has "stepped back" their relationship has gotten much better, not perfect but much better. I know it is really hard on my husband but at this point I didn't leave him a choice. If difficult child wasn't depressed with other issues then it may have been different. My thoughts are get your dss seen by a doctor and make sure he isn't depressed. He has a lot on his plate right now. A new home, new school, new mom, and old mom that doesn't want him any more and a new sister. Sounds like a lot for a teen to take in not to mention those raging hormones!

    I know you will find a ton of support here and a lot of telling it like it is. I think a lot of people can come at this from your dss prospective, that doesn't give him the right to be disrespectful to you but the correction needs to come from his dad.
    Counseling would be helpful for all of you but I would def get your dss checked out, like I said from the attitude to the slipping grades all the things my daughter went through before we found out she was depressed.
    Teen and children show depression much different than adults, more angry than sad.
    If you search teen depression you will be amazed how much info you will find and how much of it fits your dss.
    Best of luck please let me know if you take him and get him checked.
  5. Nancy423

    Nancy423 do I have to be the mom?

    Hi and Welcome!!

    Since I'm not in the same family dynamics as you are, I can't answer on how parenting is done, however, I do have about 15 years of marital troubles behind me. I don't have a perfect marraige and never will (I've grown out of teh fairy tale) BUT I do have a great partnership with him.

    So where am I going with this? Well, we did counseling several times for a number of years. Couple times with- a counselor and once with- our pastor who married us. We learned many things about ourselves as a couple. One of the biggest and most important things we learned is how to communicate. It not just talking at or to the other. It's more about listening cuz we don't always shoot straight arrows. It can be what you don't say that's the key. If you truly want to show a united front, then you need to learn how to communicate with each other.
    Don't point fingers
    Don't shout or lay blame
    Think your next words very carefully.
    Start a lot of sentences with "I feel" "I'm seeing" etc. (Feelings aren't absolute so they're neutral - and can be shared.)
    Don't say never or always
    No name calling
    Wait until you're both willing and have the time for a conversation. Don't rush in when the tension is high.

    There's more "rules" but I can't think of them right now. But I do have to say that HOW you talk to your spouse makes a difference in the household. Sounds like you have a lot of tension and stress in the house right about now which could make your DSS act out.

    This is really a great place. Like the other said, it can be pretty straight forward and to the point. Sorry if anything offends. Many of us have been there done that and would love to share our experiences in the hopes that something helps your situation. Sometimes we have to take a step back in order to see the big picture.

    Hope you two can find the love again. (HUGS)
  6. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Welcome, tunaq.

    I"m sorry you need to be here, but glad you found us. I understand a lot of what MWM was saying, she is right, BUT - you have found yourself being handed the role of caring parent to this boy, your husband let you do a great deal, the mother handed him over to you - and NOW you're dealing with "But she's only the stepmother"? It's not fair, it really isn't. But MWM is right, when the chips are down, the stepmother has to step back. Not fair, after all you've done. But unfortunately, right. For the moment.

    I think that is what has caused a lot of the problem. The boy, by rights, is his father's problem and not yours. You should be able to enjoy the good times with him as you have, but his father should also be doing this. PLaying games with him - that is a really good thing. If you can, you need to do this too. Not easy, with t he baby crawling everywhere.

    You need to learn to pick your battles and to not engage in a battle that you are not likely to win. This is general advice to parents of difficult children especially in the early stages, so it's very useful for you on so many levels.

    A good book to get your hands on is "The Explosive Child" by Ross Greene. It's an easy read (the third edition - I'm currently going through it and loving it, even though I just about had the 2nd edition memorised).

    I think a lot of the problems you're having with the boy, are complex. Your manner to him, while appropriate for a easy child, is probably making him worse because of many other issues not yet properly assessed/diagnosed (the book will help you here). You're using guilt a lot and this probably is dropping his self-esteem.

    About tidying his room - my views on this are maybe controversial, but I think he needs to have total control here. If his room is a pit, so be it. The door needs Occupational Therapist (OT) be shut so his sister can't get in, but otherwise - it's HIS room. Of course, this means that YOU don't go in to clean, to vacuum, to collect dirty clothes, so HE has to be responsible for getting his clothes to the laundrtry, andf then back from the laundry and away. But otherwise - leave the room.

    About the knife collection - suggest he have a rack, high up hanging from the wall. Or a shelf by his bed. It's what we did with difficult child 1's knife/sword collection. And some of them are scary! In our state, knives are not permitted to be sold to anyone under the age of 15. They can't even buy plastic cutlery! I would suggest sharing this knowledge with him, so he can understand that knife ownership brings some responsibility. That also includes learning to take good care of knives. Maybe his dad could show him how to properly care for blades? Perhaps start with the kitchen knives, make sure they're kept sharp, no nicked edges, well-tended so they're good tools. Then there are the workshop tools. It's bloke stuff, positive education in "man" ways.

    Tunaq, you sound like a wonderful, loving, caring, stepmother. It also sounds like the boundary lines have been re-drawn on you, and nobody bothered to tell you. As the stepmother you do need to be the hero here, to be the one to take the first step back. But that doesn't mean you can't be te cagalyst for family healing.

    If you can, get your husband to lurk here, it can really help.

  7. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Hey, dere, Marg. Good to see you. I guess it's already Wednesday for you :)
    Look, it's no picnic to have the child's mother and the father put a lot of responsibility on the stepmother, however she can back off of the role. It's not working. It didn't work for us. It doesn't work for a lot of stepfamilies and the resentment of the kids really can make things miserable. My three kids ALL acted worse on purpose when hub tried to be a father figure. They were still reeling from the marriage and resentful of the man who they felt should not be there. In their eyes, Mom and Dad should be together. And they were all young--two of the boys were 14 and my daughter was 8. If our household was going to work, the discipline had to fall to me and he had to just learn to let me do it my way. And amazingly after he stepped back, the kids stopped being obnoxious to him and things really settled down. A stepparent is not a parent. Even a terrible mother is this boy's mother and she rejected him. He is not going to be an easy child to raise nor is he going to have high self-esteem or feel wanted. in my opinion letting the room go (it's his room) is Basket C. And his grades? He needs testing. It could be emotioinal, but could also be learning disabilities. The father needs to decide what to do about his child. If not, well, I don't see how it can work out. It would never have worked out for us if hub had insited on taking an active role in parenting. "You're not my father" was said a lot, which made him angry, but he WASN'T. And I think this kid is probably feeling a lot like that in his family now too. I think backing down is the only isn't her's not her child. JMO
  8. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    To reinforce what you were saying, MWM - I'm thinking, the boy (and the father) accepted Tunaq's deep involvement and help, until the marriage. That seems to be when the problems began. The boy's age (testosterone time) probably is a factor, but there are just so very many reasons, tunaq, for you to drop it all and formally hand control back to the father. it won't be easy for you.

    As things currently stand, you're losing the war. You're being sabotaged by the generals, so to speak. They origiinally were working with you (or letting you take the lead) but have now decided on a different direction to the war, leaving you out there alone and exposed, like a shag on a rock.

    The boy is a handful. His dad needs to know just how much. Your involvement has been shielding him. OK, so it's time for him to find out the hard way, while you sit there smiling sweetly and filing your nails. Your role now is to be husband's support and back-up. If your stepson comes to you and asks you to help him, limit your help to each time he asks. "Please will you help me with this maths problem" means you help with that, then step back again. This doesn't mean you have to stop watching movies with him, or making popcorn. But once you married, you stepped over some invisible line in his mind and it's causing him a great deal of internal conflict. When his mother handed him over to his father, that also would have made the boy feel very bad inside, nobody loves him. The more unloved he feels, the more unlovable he behaves because when we feel unloved, we get grouchy, anxious, depressed and very difficult to motivate.

    You were right about him going out, common courtesy should have been considered. But since your husband is now increasingly making decisions where his son is concerned, you need to defer to the dad in this. Perhaps you could have said to difficult child, "It perhaps would have been wise to ask your dad first. How about you call him to let him know your plans?"
    By not insisting, you don't risk egg on your face when he refuses. HE makes the decision, and HE then has to face his father if he makes the wrong choice.

    Something else I've suggested to people, is to treat your child as an adult flatmate. That isn't as anarchic as it sounds. When we share an apartment with someone, we each have responsibilities to the other people we live with. We have to share the workload (with some modification, based on people's needs, skills and amount of free time) and we also have to work as a team. We must show respect for the others we live with or we will not be ppopular as house mates and when the opportunity comes up, we will risk being asked to leave.

    Flatmates show consideration as follows:

    When one person is doing a load of washing, they ask the other, "Do you have anything you want to go in the wash? I'll do it for you with my stuff now." They do this also expecting that maybe at some stage or in some other way, the favour could be returned. "You scratch my back, I'll scratch yours."

    When planning meals, we like to plan to eat what we really like. This has to be modified according to the tastes of all others who have to share the meal, and also budget constraints. Time is also a factor. I'd love to make Peking Duck, but it takes a lot of time and effort, you have to dip the duck into a boiling solution of hooney, water, soy and star anise, then hang the duck up to dry. Then dip it again, hang it to dry again (often fanning it as it dries). Eventually the duck is roasted on a vertical spit, the skin gets crispy, it's carved off and served with hoi sin sauce spread onto a mandarin pancake with a brush made from a spring onion. The rest of the duck is made into a stir-fried duck and vegetables dish, followed by a third course of soup.
    Fabulous, but time consuming.

    We do not eat Peking Duck in our home very often. My children would love it, but recognise that if I take the effort and time to make it then a lot of other things they want form me, would go by the board.

    This flips the other way. If my daughter says to me, "I'm fed up with you cooking roast chicken all the time, I want spaghetti carbonara," I say to her, "You want speghetti carbonara? That's OK, as long as you make it for yourself. I like it but it's bad for me. difficult child 3 won't eat it. husband might eat a little of it only. So I will still cook roast chicken tonight, but you can make spaghetti carbonara for yourself, if you like. You might like to cut up some cooked chicken meat and add it to your sauce, perhaps."

    Or perhaps my child is fed up with me cooking spaghetti bolognese and says, "I want something different."
    I would say, "Do you have any preferences? If not, let's look at recipe books together and make a choice." I encourage him to choose a meal, plan the recipe, shop for the ingredients, prepare the meal, serve it and help clean up afterwards.

    Once your child begins to do this, not only do they have more choice in their life but they're also learning to work as part of the team, not just ofr themselves. Because to choose osmething different you still have to consider everyone's likes/dislikes as well as stick to the family budget. You can't blow a weeks' food budget on seafood platter for one night only.

    My kids learned that if we need to save money in the food budget for something special they want, that I have a store of "gourmet poverty food" recipes to fall back on. I taught them to cook these because when they left home I knew they would need them.

    There are many ways in which we show respect for one another. A very important one is something you touched on, tunaq - it's the "If you are going out, we need to know where you are going and when you will be home."
    I strongly recommend you bring this in as a family rule, one which everybody in the household complies with. So if YOU are going out (perhaps to the shops) you let difficult child know (if he's the only one home), "I am ab out to go out, I'm going to the shops. I expect to be home in an hour."
    YOu can even add, "Is there anything you can think of that should be on the shopping list?"
    He then has the option to say, "While you're there can you please buy me some more pencils for school? I broke my last one yesterday," or similar. It's also encouraging him to take personal responsibility, even as you are keeping him informed as to your movements. You are modelling for him, what he should be doing purely as a matter of courtesy. it has nothing to do with him still being a child. It's housemate rules.

    Visualise two girls sharing an apartment. Jane says to Mary, "I'm going out with my boyfriend tonight, he's taking me to meet his parents at their home down the coast. I expect we'll be staying there the night, so don't expect me home until tomorrow afternoon. I'll have my mobile phone if you need me for anything."
    That way when Jane doesn't come home that night, Mary knows to not worry, she's safe with her boyfriend and his family.

    it's common courtesy and it goes both ways.

    I do think you and your husband need to sit down and talk things over, I do also think that family counselling is not a bad idea. When you two married, the goal posts got moved and you need to go looking to find out exactly where they are and how likely it is that they will be moved again. Your need to talk isn't about blame, it's not about who made what mistake, it's about defining the situation as it is now and working out who is going to be responsible for what area of your mutual home life. This is a planning meeting. At some point you need to try to draw difficult child in to the planning meeting so you can establish with him, who is responsible for which part of his life, and what HIS responsibilities are.

    And as MWM emphasised, I think you need to insist that for the time being at least, you are taken off difficult child's case and it gets firmly handed back to husband unless specifically, clearly delegated otherwise. And frankly, there had better be a darn good reason for it being delegated back to you, while difficult child is still coming to terms with the marriage. It's not fair to you, not fair to difficult child, probably not fair to husband.

    But that shouldn't stop you asking difficult child to teach you how to play a game on the PS2. Try and have short but positive interactions with him, let them finish on a positive note with him wanting more.

    And a tip about the bathroom - if you use ONLY bubble bath in the bathtub and no soap, it's really easy to keep it clean. It's when you put soap into the bath that you get that nasty ring around the tub. To wash a kid, you can put a drop more bubble bath onto a washer and use that. Soap is the natural enemy of bubble bath bubbles, it kills them fast. And frankly, we found that mostly, bubble bath alone in the tub was enough to wash the kids, there was no need to froth up the washer.

    I hope this helps.

  9. DaveS903

    DaveS903 New Member

    tunaq, I see a lot of myself in your post. I am new here and still learning how to handle life with our difficult child so take these words accordingly!

    I am a step father to a difficult kid. It appeared to me my wife left most of the handling of the difficult child to me and when the teenage years came along, things went from plain old tough to spiraling downward toward oblivion tough. I set rules, he broke them. I ranted and raved; he ranted and raved right back. I caught all the grief and she got all the love. My wife and I would agree on some sort of plan and I followed through; she let things slide I thought were the ABSOLUTE NEVER TO BE BROKEN RULES of a sane household. In looking back, I got into a "ain't gonna work" cycle of trying to enforce behavior for the sake of enforcing behavior rather than learning to focus on the big picture.

    Although my wife and I never argued (other than internally), our marriage broke down due to the constant stress and conflict. One day, my wife announced the marriage was over and that she wanted out. As she put it, she grabbed her kid and ran to her mother's hometown. It hurt, but the time apart gave us both a chance to see things a lot more clearly. I saw how inflexible I had become and she learned the problems did not disappear with me out of the picture (the difficult child was committed for a week to a beahvioral heath center for a rage episode 3 or 4 weeks after the they moved out). A couple of days after she moved out, her mother discovered her cancer had returned and was scheduled for 3 months of chemo therapy. I am happy to say she has made the 100% commitment to move back after her mother completes the chemo. We still have some things we need to work through, but some time apart allowed us to see things a lot more clearly.

    As you have discovered, the resistance energy of a teen is astounding! I've had to re-learn parenting 101. One of my biggest breakthroughs came when I spent a Thanksgiving with my best friend and his extended family. His kids are both in gifted and talented programs, Eagle Scout, all state this and that, etc. His perfect son exhibited some the exact same behavior our son did. It helped me see that some of my son's goofy stunts were normal for a teenager.

    At some point, teens enter into the rebellion stage and refuse to learn from parents and have to start figuring out life for themselves. It is like shooting an arrow. You do what you can to get the arrow (the difficult child) pointed in the right direction and provide all the input you can. If you hold a bow drawn back for too long, it starts to wobble and the arrow shakes and it gets very tiring and difficult to hold all that energy back...and eventually you have to let the arrow fly away on its own. End of analogy. lol To me it comes down to a very basic choice - you can try to control through whatever (as you are seeing, it’s not working out so well) or you can trust him to learn by living life. It is not easy being the parent (step or otherwise) of a teen and it is not easy being a teen! But that's life I suppose.

    Although your family may not be interested in seeing a counselor together, have you considered seeing one alone to work through the issues you can control and more importantly, the ones you can't? It might be worth considering.
  10. tunaq

    tunaq New Member

    first off thank you to all so far for the advice.

    so i was trying to think of more to tell you all and i know an edited post originally asked more about DSS's mom. she and husband married when husband graduated in '93. she dropped out of school to get married and her parents willingly allowed her to do this. husband had joined the air force and was soon off to boot camp. in '95 DSS was born. not too long after, things fell apart and they both ended up cheating, then divorcing. around the same time husband and i started dating, she began seeing one her of more recent ex's again. just like the first time they dated, there were major problems. the man threatened DSS one night. DSS was 7 yrs. old and they were stayig at this guys house ( he is raising 3 girls on his own) DSS kept getting out of bed and going to find his mom. this guy hauled him back to the room placed his arm on the edge of the bunk bed and told him " if you get out of bed again, i will break your :censored2: arm."" DSS did not bother to tell us for some time. after they really began having problems and the ex wife was continually calling my husband to whine about the problems,literally calling 4 and 5 times a day and talking for hours about her problems, husband and a friend of his went and moved the few things she had there out of this guys house. that however, never stopped her calls! even when she was dating other guys, she would call and spend hours on the phone crying to my husband and keeping him up late. it started affecting him as far as work to where he would call in to get sleep or just flat out be late, and i insisted he put a stop to it. finally, within the last couple years, it did. not long after husband and i got married, she finally went and got her GED. i am proud of anybody who goes back to school, but a part of me believes that DSS thinks dropping out is ok. His aunt and uncle are school teachers and his great uncle is a super intendant of schools in arizona, so half of the family is very successful and the other half, well, only 3 have even completed high school. through the entire leaving her ex process, the exwife did make an attempt with DSS, but apparently gave up. she had signed her and him up for counseling and he was tested for all sorts of things but everything came back ok. school tested him for gifted. he excelled in a few areas, but none that really were to me a reason to put him in gifted. it was areas like creativity and music. math and those areas, he was below average. he failed gifted last year and we had him removed from the program. they put him back in it this year without retesting and he is failing, now he is being pulled out of it next semester. the teacher has even e-mailed saying she does not believe he truly belongs in the program.

    so move to last night. husband and i had agreed a while back that DSS was allowed to cook as long as he cleaned up after himself. well, OVer this past weekend, husband and i cleaned the kitchen top to bottom and had agreed and he told DDS, all messes will be cleaned up immediately by the person who made them we agreed we had both worked too hard to let it get destroyed or as bad as it was (coffee under the coffee maker from where it spilled over, grease and cheese from husband's omlet that he failed to clean up.) so monday, DSS made himself some eggs before he went to his grandma's house, he left the greasy mess all over. i refused to clean it. yesterday morning, DSS made coffee and let it spill over and left the mess. so after all the strees yesterday, we get home to a mess and DSS was not home. he is supposed to ride the bus meaning he should have been home an hour before us. no call, no note, no nothing. husband calls him on his cell and finds out he walked to his grandma's house. i walked away form the situation until i heard husband hang up, then i made the mistake of walking into the kitchen. i turned to husband and asked him to come in there with me to see the mess. I pointed out neither of us had cooked or made coffee the last couple days and he said he would handle it. i never said anything else besides, " we worked too hard to have it look like this already." i left it at that. DSS came home about 30 minutes later. I dsaid hello and went back to the article i was reading on dysfunctional cognitions in automatic thinking that i found online. husband got out of the shower and went out and told DSS he needed to have some respect and call and let us know his plans so nobody worries and that he had a mess in the kitchen to clean, pointing out the coffee and grease messes. husband asked him to clean it up and then ran up to the gas station. i went in a little bit later to unload the dishwasher and noticed only half the mess had even remotely been touched. husband came back home and walks in the kitchen to hand me a soda he bought me to be nice. (i rarely drink them, and neither does he, so we don't keep it in the house.) he asked what was wrong and i took a deep breath and calmly said, " i am a little upset right now. you told DSS to clean up his messes and he only halfway cleaned the coffee mess and he did not bother to go near the stove. i needed to set a few things on the stove to get them out of my way and had to clean it first so i could use it." husband then called DSS back into the kitchen and asked him why he only halfway cleaned the messes. he said he had forgot. husband then told him i had to finish cleaning his messes up for him so i could have space to do what i needed, and he better thank me for it and not ":censored2:" it any more or he would lose his cooking privledges.

    how long this approach will work, i don't know, but for now it is fine.
  11. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    This entire family needs therapy. You need seperate therapy and therapy together. I'll repeat that later in the I am too lazy to delete where I put this later on, but it can't be emphasized enough. Also, and again I'm sure I'll repeat it later, I think you should stop focusing on the neatness factor for now. That is becoming a WAY HUGE issue and in my opinion it's not worth it. Please stay with me here...

    Personally, I feel for the kid. He has been through abuse and several SO's from both his mother and father. And frankly I know you are trying, but it's not your place to have so much influence over him. I'm puzzled why it matters to you if he should be in Gifted or not. Again, I think you are trying to overmanage him as if you are his mother. Moreoever, it isn't going to work. He's 14 and had a horrible, chaotic life, which hub helped create by the cheating and divorcing. I know she did it too, but so did he. Then both of them started dating fast and this child, an ONLY child, is alone to deal with two adults who are suddenly no longer together and are fighting.
    We are getting your side of the story. Mom may have learning disabilities. Son may have too and they may not have been caught yet. Did he ever see a neuropsychologist? You can have a genius IQ and still have learning disabilities. If he doesn't get tested by GOOD professionals, results of his being "ok" are pretty useless. Obviously he's not ok.

    Frankly, this child is not going to do what you want him to do just because you want him to. He needs A LOT of counseling and I feel the whole family sounds very dysfunctional and all of you need to get help or the family will fall apart and your daughter will also suffer. You can not come into his life and force this boy to do what you want him to do, no matter how frustrated you get. You in my opinion do not have a realistic picture of what he is going to do for you...or for how horrible his life has been. And how both his mother and father and all of their SO's have contributed to making him sort of have to stand on his own and walk to the beat of a different drum.

    The details you posted don't matter. It's the big picture. It's not working at all. The boy needs his own therapist. God knows if he was sexually abused at one time or actually physically abused. It is NOT his fault that he didn't tell you. Abused kids often keep it inside, thinking it was their fault, afraid that the abuser will kill him or his loved ones (and he does love his mother, even if you don't like her).
    You can't make him want to go to college or to get good grades. those are YOUR values, but he wasn't brought up with them and you can't force yours on him.

    in my opinion I say again therapy, therapy,, hub, the need your own seperate therapists AND family therapy. It is pointless to talk about what he has done. It is best to get the family in the care of somebody who can help you. I don't think any of us can do that. There is too much going on and the boy has suffered through too much chaos and abuse and, from what I'm reading, he has never really gotten serious help. Aside from a neuropsychologist, I think he should see a teen Psychiatrist too.

    There is so much going on, and the dynamics in my opinion are very poor. I don't mean to be harsh, but that includes your part in all of this. It's a big dance and nobody is dancing to the same beat, if you know what I mean. A recipe for continued chaos. Please, please, please for the sake of BOTH of these kids, get help for everyone. That's the best advice I can give you. Because you all need serious counseling ASAP. I think you should forget about trying to force DSS to clean up--that is so NOT the issue here. It is a symptom of a very sick family unit that needs mental health services. Do get them.
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2009
  12. tunaq

    tunaq New Member

    ok i am sick of judgements being passed that are completely out there so i am going to get this cleared up a bit.

    husband's issues are he suffers from depression after finding his mother dead on the floor of his home one day from a prescription drug overdose (he was an adult). his uncle on the opposite side of the family suffered from post tramatic stress disorder and died from a prescription drug overdose. husband's way of coping was to drink. Yes, he is an alcoholic and he has been to counseling for it all.

    my father committed suicide due to depression from my parents divorce when i was 3. I was tested multiple times growing up and guess what! there are absolutely no signs of anything at all wrong with me, aside from maybe i am too nice and tolerate too much from others. no matter what test doctors put me through, they could never even get my blood pressure to rise, and all told me i was way too calm. so i am sane!

    daughter is perfectly fine. always happy and smiling unless she is wet/poopy, sick or hungry, then she just wants mom! she is very much a mama's girl!

    DSS: yes, he has been through alot in his short life. yes i do feel for him for all that. he has been to counseling. one doctor said he was border line ADD but that is it. that's under control. he is smart, but he is lazy. when pushed, he can makes a's and b's, otherwise he is just lazy. all he has to do to turn in his school work, is hit the send button because the schools here do everything via the web. he will do the work and save it, but not hit the send button. he does have behavioral issues that need dealt with.

    I did not ask to be put in the mom role for him. my husband continually tells me he wants me to act like and be a mom to his son. I have told DSS I am not his mom and i would never try to replace her, i am just another mom who he can go to for help or advice when he needs it. I can't afford to have a flithy home with an infant in the house because i presonally am not one who is into having to do cpr or the hymlic on an infant who picked up something off the floor and shoved it in her mouth while i was dealing with the rest of the stuff i have to do. sorry but that is not my idea of a fun night, therefore my home will be clean to prevent that. add to it i am not into living like a slob and i don't really know anybody who is, but i know those people exist. so maybe wanting a clean home is my disorder.
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2009
  13. tunaq

    tunaq New Member

    some people may want to reread the gentle reminder sticky before they post, as they tend to pass judgement then offer advice or opinions and then pass judgement again. granted they do fix their initial post after its been up for a bit, but they always find a way to pass more judgements. ie: the family is dysfunctional
    yes we have our problems but so does everybody else here. so wheres the support or is slamming people and their families considered "support"in some peoples minds.
  14. eekysign

    eekysign New Member

    Whoa, now. I politely disagree with this. I can't even explain why, because I disagree so strongly, I can't even understand where you're coming from to make a counter-argument. Could you explain why you don't believe encouraging a child in school is a vital part of raising them? Getting good grades isn't like being tolerant of different people, going to church regularly, or liking polka music. I would think that EVERY child should be encouraged to get good's not a "value" per se. I just don't "get" ya here, MWM.

    I disagree with abandoning tunaq to clean up after her teen stepson. If he's capable of making his own food, he is capable of cleaning up after himself. She shouldn't be responsible for his mess. Neither should his Dad. It may not be the issue, but it's also a habit that shouldn't be neglected as trivial. He's probably testing boundaries, like someone earlier posted. Ignoring his poor decisions is a reward he doesn't deserve. ;)

    A lot of his behaviors are typical teenage boy type actions, too. I do agree that there is something more serious going on (grades, etc show that). But not cleaning up after himself is about as normal teen as you can get. I think every teen would avoid all cleaning if they thought they could get away with it! Letting him ruin your "guest" bathroom was probably an unwise decision, tunaq---you told him to clean it, and instead of leaving it at that, you let him negotiate with you, and now you have a filthy bathroom no one wants to use. Hehe. Generally speaking, I agree that his ROOM should be his to trash, as long as there are occasional health 'n' safety cleanings. But it sounds like you let him have the bathroom to "prove" to him how much effort it takes to keep one clean, and it backfired on you.

    Tunaq, you guys probably should ask Grandma how he is explaining his constant visits, 'cause I'd bet he's told her why he's not wanting to be home. He's going over there with-o telling you guys first, he's asking her to come get him......sounds like he's using her as an escape from your home. That's not a bad thing, necessarily, personally, I think teens really do need a place to "escape" to. But it'll help you guys if you can hook up with her and find out if she knows what's going on.

    My other two cents is this: I grew up with two stepparents, both were around from the time I was 4. Functionally, 4 parents in my life as long as I can remember. My stepmom never "parented" me, but she NEVER let me misbehave in ways that affected HER----it was more of a "don't whine, that's rude to all of us", "You poured yourself that drink, so you can go wash the glass in the sink yourself.". She never fussed about homework, behavior in the house, etc---she let my Dad handle all that. But misbehave in public, whine to her, be rude in any way, and I was told on no uncertain terms to knock it off. I didn't like it, but I couldn't argue with her logic. She WASN'T my Mom, so she DIDN'T have to take my ****. ;)

    She was always clear as to how my poor decisions (not turning off the lights, not cleaning up after myself, etc) affected HER (made her pay more electric, made her clean up someone else's mess), and that was something I could understand. As Marg said, she treated me like a roommate she loved very much, but someone old enough to be responsible for my own actions. Because she always phrased it as "How unfair would it be if I made you clean up MY room?", I "got" that it was unfair to expect her to clean up MY stuff. It worked out well for us, at least. We're good friends now. Maybe something to try?

    My stepdad left me to my Mom for the most part when I was a kid, but once I hit my teens, he came on strong. His two sons were MAJOR difficult children, and I think he was "trying" to make sure I didn't end up like them. He forced every rule, looked disapprovingly at my Mom when she DIDN'T force all the rules (ie, clean up kitchen after dinner, but I'd ask for a break when I had a bit extra homework and she'd always say yes.). We butted heads from the time I was 14 until I left home for college.

    The point is that you already know that a husband and wife should always be on the same page with parenting. Being the stepparent makes that even more necessary. Your new plan with the hubby sounds good! Encourage him to keep it up if he slacks off. But if he abandons it, you shouldn't be left holding the bag. You care for your stepson, and that's awesome. As some of the others said, back off a little and allow him to start liking you again, as a person, not as the disciplinarian of the house. Let (force?! ) your husband take over that role. And cross your fingers. I wish you all kinds of good luck! :tongue:
  15. tunaq

    tunaq New Member

    well we do know part of the reson he goes there alot is because the oldest of the 3 cousins that his mom is helping to raise, is very close to DSS and he is always stuck at his grandmas, so he texts and calls DSS all the time and begs him to come over. he also has a couple friends over by her from his previous school that he likes to visit.

    now the whole grandma as a friend approach unfortunately does not work for us beecause we have had major issues with her in the past, up until she had a heart attack about a year ago. DSS used to go to her house every day after school when he was living with his mom. one of the littlest cousins threw a baseball to DSS in the living room and he tossed it back to him and told him not to throw it in the house. well his cousin did not catch it and went into and overly dramatic whine when it hit his shoulder. DSS's grandma ran in and without hearing the entire story grabbed DSS, hauled him off to a room where she proceeded to whip his rear-end and anything else she happened to hit with a belt. the 4th or 5th swing, DSS grabbed the belt, jerked it away, hopped on his bike at 5:00pm and rode it clear across town to our house. husband let his exwife and her mom both know how unacceptable it was.

    i am a firm believer in spankings but only when necessary and by parents not grandparents. grandparents are supposed to spoil you and love you. if you do something that drastic, maybe, yeah some sort of punishment, but i don't agree with multiple lashings from a belt.

    yes granted the grandma is also helping raise her sons 3 kids. he works full time and she and DSS's mom pretty well raise the kids while he works because their drug addict mom up and left one night, filed for divorce. so yes. the grandma has a full plate, but she can be totally unfair to DSS and it is because she has issues with husband and i both.

    thank you for being so understanding and supportive:peaceful:
  16. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Eeks, it's great to agree to disagree ;), but I stand by what I said. The child isn't going to listen to her in my opinion until the big picture of the dynamics of the family are addressed. I'm glad your stepparents worked for you, but it's not working for this child. This family needs therapy, therapy and more therapy...individual and group therapy...and they ALL need it to understand one another (not because anyone is "crazy"), but because there is no common ground and hub has told her to pack and leave and now we hear there's a grandma deeply involved in the family dynamics too. This kid must be a mess, and the family is ready to fall apart. The only way to get everyone together is to have intensive counseling both alone and together. I can't see it resolving without some strong interventions on all fronts. JMO
  17. tunaq

    tunaq New Member

    first off lmao, his grandma, a constant. i am actually going to hold back the rest of that.
    nobody has spanked him since he was little aside from his grandma lashing him with a belt at age 13 which we dealt with. what i said was i believe in spankings. i did not say at 14. so as you told eeks, read it through first then feel free to respond. the grandma you think so highly of is quite a piece of work herself!
    and for the record honey, i was raised by my mom and a step father who was an authority figure in my life growing up. it does work! sorry it didn't work for you but i have my theories as to why.
  18. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    First of all, there is no need to get defensive. And I'm not your honey.
    I believe you about Grandma. Backing off of you feel your family needs outside intervention? I think that's the best place to start. I have no opinion of Grandma or anyone. I'm just offering advice (for the last time). Do what you can to get husband into therapy...alone and family therapy. That's my suggestion to everything you have said. You have brought up symptoms of a bigger problem in my opinion and your family needs outside help. It's not an insult. Almost everyone on this board has had serious therapy, many of us in family therapy too. Anyway JMO ;) Ok, I'm out of this one now.
  19. tunaq

    tunaq New Member

    i am here for advice, not judgement and it seems you have your mind made up the whole lot of us is insane. do i believe the family needs family therapy to try to find the root of the problem, yes. we can't find a happy medium and DSS obviously has an issue. having a problem does not automatically mean everybody is insane,it's a problem, and yes compared to some, mine is very minute.
    do you ever stop attacking people and bringing them down and then editing posts to cover what you initally said? see you did it again! i quoted the original and you edited it again! haha you have done it with every post!
  20. busywend

    busywend Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I have to say that I live this everyday.

    My difficult children stepmom feels similar things as you do. She was around when difficult child was little and they got along great. She does love my difficult child.

    But, in the last few years she has been too strict with her. Too strict for the stepmom role. It is different. difficult child as a teen is a challenge to say the least. Sometimes I do not want to be around her either.

    Recently, difficult children stepmom told her she could not wait until June (difficult child graduates) so she could say good riddance.

    That is something that comes out of the mouth of a frustrated person.

    She can never take it back or undo that statement. I know stepmom still loves difficult child, but she does not like her at all. At all. She wants her out of that house. And she got her wish, my difficult child no longer wants to go there.

    In fact, my difficult child has felt for a long time that stepmom did not want her there and has asked to stop going for some time now.

    Do not assume anything about your DSS right now. Do not assume he knows you love him. Do not assume he feels like you want him there. Do not assume he does not sense the love you have for your daughter as compared to the love you have for him. It is different. He sees that. It is natural, too. I am not judging, I am stating an opinion about all steps.

    I think MWM is on the right track, and it is because I see what it can do to the child. Rethink what you are trying to accomplish - along with your husband. Come to an agreement on how to accomplish what needs to be done. Bite your tongue until you can talk to husband about every goings on.

    I can not imagine how difficult it will be. But, it is most likely in the best interest of this child that you love and care for. Maybe not the same way as daughter, but you do love him.