New future Step-Mom needs help with probable ODD child

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Peace Please, Mar 28, 2011.

  1. Peace Please

    Peace Please New Member

    Hi. I am brand new to this site, and I desperately need help. I recently became engaged to a 37 year-old man who has a 13 year-old boy who has been diagnosed with ADHD, and who I believe has ODD. I am 37. I have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) (well controlled with medication), and I am the primary caregiver for this child. I have been living with these two wonderful men for almost a year, and the child's behavior is really starting to get to me. We recently moved into an apartment, just the three of us, and I am alone with him a LOT (his Dad works almost 60 hours a week).

    He throws temper tantrums daily, especially when I ask him to do anything that requires him to turn off the video game, TV, or what he wants to do. He argues with me about taking a shower, telling me he will take one later that day. Well, I've learned that he is just putting me off, hoping that I will forget. He already attends a school for children with behavior problems, and they send home daily reports about his behavior that day. He throws things at other students when they annoy him, threatens other students and yells at his teachers constantly. He walks out of the classroom or pretends that he's sick if he's asked to do anything he doesn't want to do. I'm very afraid that he will escalate this behavior to more violent outbursts. He has had numerous detentions this year and has been suspended five times. His principal is talking about making him repeat the seventh grade because his grades and behavior have been horrible.

    His Mom has been in and out of his life, and he does have a step-mom who tries to be involved, but I don't know if that is helping or hurting. My fiancee is currently in the process of divorcing her, and she's not very happy about it. I believe that she is causing more problems with him. He spends every other weekend with her, and when he comes back, he's more argumentative and acts up more in school.

    We have been trying to teach him that his behavior is unacceptable by taking away luxuries like his video games, TV and computer when he acts up in school or at home. This usually ends up being more of a punishment for me, since he spends the whole time pestering me. He will say my name over and over, and when I acknowledge him, he will say HI or throw a pillow at me. I have asked him over and over not to do that because it annoys me, but that just makes him do it more, and now I think I know why. I have read some information about ODD, and I believe this is what is going on with him.

    Can anyone please give me some advice on how to deal with this situation? I don't want him to get worse, and some of his outbursts are scaring me. Thank you.
  2. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    From another stepmom...

    This child has been through a LOT, it sounds like. And your DF not being there - well, I'll be honest with you, it sounds like the boy has abandonment issues. 1) Bio mom in and out - no schedule to it, he never knows. 2) Step mom checking out. 3) Dad barely home.

    How long have you been with DF? I'll be honest... If you are scared? DF needs to step up, I know he's working a lot to make things better for the family, but it is his responsibility. It's a "joke" with my husband that if I had known what I was getting into, I would have run - screaming. It's a joke... But it's not. Do you really want to marry into this mess?

    I'm not trying to be rude, or say you made the wrong choice - because look at me! By the time I married husband, I had a small taste of this, and was too stubborn to back down. I love husband and the kids. I wouldn't be able to stay otherwise. But it's NOT EASY. Hell, it's the single most difficult thing I have ever faced in my life.

    {{{{{HUGS}}}}} I'm serious, get DF on the same page. He needs to take charge - or this will just get worse. been there done that.
  3. Allan-Matlem

    Allan-Matlem Active Member

    check out the collaborative problem solving approach = the latest edition of the explosive child . You have to become his best friend, you are not his mother which is an advantage when ' working with a child . forget the consequences and doing to the kid. Education is a process , takes a longtime , building trust and relationship , mentors, buddy-tutors, older brothers

    it is not easy , nurture yourself

  4. JJJ

    JJJ Active Member

    You are clearly trying to help this boy but I think you need to take a good, hard look at DF. His #1 responsibility is to his son and he appears to be failing miserably. You don't say how long DF was married to his wife, it is quite possible that the boy sees her as his 'mother figure' if she was around when he was younger. With mom flitting in and out of his life and dad working most of his waking hours, she may have been his only source of stability (so here continuing contact with the boy is GOOD). Now, despite his dad still be married to his step-mom, he has spent the last year living with dad and dad's mistress. He is enveloped in all of the angst of puberty and trying to figure out how boys relate to girls. Add in a neurological condition (ADHD) and I am not at all surprised that the child is oppositional.

    I think the best thing you can do for this child is to insist that his dad step up and BE A DAD.
  5. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    I must respectfully disagree. True you are not his mother, which will help; but I don't suggest becoming his best friend, either. The fact is, first you have to take care of you. Second - this child has had some serious problems with parenting. You aren't a step-parent yet - but you might be, and it's clear you have most of the parenting time even now.

    You're not there to replace bio mom or the other step mom, and you don't want to try. But if you try to be "best friends" he will walk all over you.

  6. Peace Please

    Peace Please New Member

    Oh yeah, this child has been through MORE than a lot. I'm SURE he has abandonment issues that don't make the other issues any better. Don't worry about sounding rude StepTo2. I have thought the same things myself. I know it sounds like a lot to take on for me, but I have talked it over with my DF, and he and I are on the same page. We have been together for almost a year. He supports me a lot when he's not here, and completely takes over when he is here to give me a break. If the child is going to be home for a few days in a row and my DF has to work, he arranges for his family members to take the kid to make it easier on me. If things get out of hand when he's at work and I do have the child, he calls me and talks to his son. He is much better at diffusing the situation than I am since he has dealt with this for thirteen years. The problem is that the strategies we've been using don't seem to be making the situation any better. We have been together for almost a year. My DF was very honest about his son when we got together. I love them both very much, and I just want to help make the situation better, and get help for the 13 year-old. I don't want to be like the other women in his life and walk away. I really need some other strategies that have worked for other people.
  7. JJJ

    JJJ Active Member

    :Grouphug: come on into our group...we have lots of strategies; take the ones that sound like they can help you, leave the rest. Heck, I think I have tried 99% of the suggestions I have gotten here with one kid or another. Some worked, some didn't but the support always helped.

    Have you read the book "The Explosive Child" by Ross Greene? It is a great help for kids like ours. It is what Allen's links are.

    Essentially, make a list of all of the problems that you are having with LilPeace. Then you choose the ones that are critical (those involving safety, law breaking, etc) and put them in basket A. You take everything else and toss it in basket C. Save basket B for later.

    A= Adult rules, these items are non-negotiable because they keep people safe
    1. No hitting people or pets.
    2. No firestarting.
    3. Take your medications (meaning critical medications, not tylenol or other 'comfort' medications)

    C=child rules, these items are annoying and bothersome but the world will not end if the child does what he wants
    1. Cleaning his room.
    2. Whining
    3. Showering

    B= both compromise
    If the A basket behaviors are under control, then you choose a behavior from C that you would really like to see progress made. Let's take showering. You (best if it is you and dad, and stepmom if she is a regular part of his life) still down with LilPeace and do a CPS (collabarative problem solving) with him.

    1. The adults need to express empathy that they understand that Lil doesn't want to stop playing to take a shower. That they too get caught up in (Facebook, reading, whatever your passion is) and don't want to stop either.

    2. Define the problem Lil, it is important to us that you are clean. The problem is how to create a plan so that you shower often enough.

    3. Invitation Ask Lil how he wants to solve the problem. Let him give his suggestions first before any adult pipes up. If ANY of Lil's suggestions work, then pick the best one and agree that you can do it that way.

    Write down what has been agreed upon and decide on a time period (start short, maybe a week) to meet again and see how the plan is working. Put the follow-up meeting on the calendar.

    We had the showering issue with Eeyore. His first solution was that he just never shower. Clearly that wouldn't work. His second suggestion was that he shower only on school morning and be allowed to skip showering on Saturday and Sunday. That worked for us, if he also agreed that if we were going somewhere nice on the weekend, that he would shower. He agreed, provided that he did not have to shower during school breaks. Fine. It has been almost two years and he showers most days now (even when there isn't school:) ) Now, deoderant is a whole seperate battle..thankfully he has discovered girls and the school nurse told him girls like boys who wear deoderant ;)

    I would read "The Explosive Child" cover to cover ASAP. It is a life saver. There is another book he wrote called "Lost At School" that I have found alot of their suggestions tohelp at home too.
  8. JJJ

    JJJ Active Member

    Instead of trying to either be "his new mom" or "his best friend". I would suggest that you look at yourself more as a case manager. A professional whose job it is to help this child become the best person he can be. That includes supporting his relationships with mom, stepmom and dad. By 'disengaging' emotionally, you may find that you have more strength to deal with him. It is the only way I am surviving Kanga.
  9. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    DF needs to take a day or two (or a week!) off of work and set up counseling. There are serious issues with bio mom not being consistent.

    He needs to make it clear to his son that son is to listen to you and treat you with respect.

    At this point - only a year in - there is nothing that says to son that you're not leaving.

    It's very, very clear that there are issues far beyond the behavioral. One... Who diagnosis'd son with ADHD? Is he on medication at all? Does it seem to work and then at the end of the day (school or otherwise) he crashes and his behavior goes off the charts? Or no medications?

    It's difficult to tell exactly what the problem could be... I would recommend (this falls into husband taking time off work) a complete neuropsychological evaluation. There might be more going on than anyone knows.

    in my opinion - ODD is a catchall, especially after everything I've read and learned. Early on? I was looking for information on ODD when I found this site. Now I understand better that Onyxx's behavior is due to underlying issues. Those, we are working on. Let's be honest - every teen is oppositional and/or defiant at some point. It only becomes a disorder when it's extreme and constant. Something is triggering it. Even if it's just frustration because he cannot focus (ADHD).

    Hugs... I'm not the only person here, but I feel very strongly as a stepmom. If things continue on as they are - you may well wish you'd never met them. DF must do some work... You can't...
  10. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    We not infrequently receive posts from loving, well meaning fiancees who ask similar questions. I am blunt in my responses because I do sincerely care. When a couple bonds and dreams of their future the impact of a difficult child doesn't seem all that scarey.Everyone believes love will conquer all and it's just a matter of figuring out the answers. It's not that easy.

    I had a difficult child. I met and fell in love with a wonderful man who honestly didn't believe me when I told him it was best if I stayed single until that child was an adult. As the parent I was actively involved every single day, had the best professional help on board and would have been better for both of us if we had remained in love as single people. difficult child's are not curable. difficult child's have issues based on factors that the incoming parent doesn't know or understand. Heck, the biological parent doesn't understand it themselves. You didn't cause the problems. You can't control the problems. Worse yet you are giving your all and the chances of happy resolution are slim, at best.

    The only person who can attend to difficult child problems is the biological custodial parent and it can't be done in a few hours a week.No matter how kind and caring your DF is (and I don't doubt that for a minute) he and only he has to be the leader. His son wants and needs his Dad to find him help, share the therapeutic process and most of all to be available. I apologize for not providing positive support as I am sure you want to do everything you can to change things. Don't feel guilty for feeling fear or anxiety etc. It is a normal reaction to the abnormal behaviors of difficult child's. The thing is DF's respsonsibilty DDD
  11. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    D3 is absolutely correct.
  12. Allan-Matlem

    Allan-Matlem Active Member


    ''But if you try to be "best friends" he will walk all over you. '' - The challenge is for the kid to see you as a help , somebody he trusts to help him meet his needs and that means working on the relationship , reaching out to the kid . That means plenty of conversations , getting him to speak and you listen. helping him to ' learn to trust you is a process , so you can work with the kid. The basic philosophy of the cps - explosive child is that children do well if they can . Kids would rather be successful and adaptive , have good relationships - when that is not happening it means the kid lacks coping skills and there are plenty of unsolved problems in his world that need to be worked on.

    a pessimistic view of the nature of kids or explanations that there behavior is mainly driven by trying to get what they want, attention seeking and avoiding tasks. We all try to get what we want but in adaptive ways.

    Instead of the word ' friend ' we can use ' guide by the side or older sister , my point being put the relationship first . It is one of the questions i ask fellow parents - what kind of relationship do you have with your kids

    It is not easy

  13. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    It was best for us when my husband (new stepfather) stopped trying to be the disciplinarian and ex and I parented together with hub being more l ike a friend. Not saying it's best for everybody's family, but the other way didn't work at all for us. I think it's very individual.

    This kid has been kicked around a lot and it sounds to me like you have the #1 caregiver role to a child who probably feels like he doesn't know you that well and may resent you being in his life at all. He has already lost two mothers and now his father is not even divorced yet and he's going to get another one. From his point of view, he may see you as temporary. As one who went through marrying the stepfather, I always advise everyone who is thinking of jumping in to think it over verrrrrrrrrrrry carefully. in my opinion this child is not just love-deprived...he may have stopped looking for a mother figure and maybe doesn't even want one. He could have attachment disorder due to his unstable early upbringing. And in my opinion DF should try to get a job where he doesn't have to be away from his son so much. in my opinion that's not fair to either the child or to you.

    This child is likely to remain very difficult and since his father is not in his life very much you are going to be the brunt of his frustration. Has DF ever had his evaluated at least?

    Take care and I hope you think hard before you take the final leap. Maybe you should see a therapist on your own. This can not be easy. Good luck! :)
  14. overload

    overload New Member

    Ok, this is my first post here but I do relate to where your at . I have a 15 year old bipolar/odd/personality disorder daughter. The only thing that seems to help with her is to give her a choice.I break things down into parts...she will refuse to take her medications so I will not ingauge that issue instead I will ask would you prefere apple juice or water with that as I place her pill in her hand she gets to feel somewhat in control make her decission end of arguement. You have to be creative and try not to actuall force the issue instead try to find a way to make him feel in control. Would yoou like me to heat your towel in the dryer while you shower? Get more then one type of shampoo so you can say (as you turn off the video game) what would you like tonight? Assie or Dove? it seems as long as they get to make a choice they tend to focus on that rather then the fact they are being told what to do. Do not bargen or deal...and most of all do not engauge...they get off on upsetting you , it gives them power and thats what they are after.At time I just have to say what I expect then leave the room to avoid the argument...its no fun to fight with yourself so she tends to stop if she cant get a reaction. It dosent always work but I have found it soooo helpful.The phone is the most important thing to my girl so I use it alot. I do things like If your room is cleaned up in half an hour you can be on the phone while you do the dishes...stupid stuff but it helps.Good luck to strong , it is an on going challenge with no easy answers.
  15. Peace Please

    Peace Please New Member

    Thank you everyone for your suggestions and support. I have ordered a copy of "The Explosive Child" and my DF and I are both going to read it. I truly believe that LittlePeace has decided that he doesn't want a mother anymore. He just wants to hang out with the boys and do boy things, and who can blame him? His drug-abusing mother abandoned him and his step-mother never really loved him. She has two kids of her own, and never paid any attention to him anyway. He hasn't seen or heard from his mother for more than a year, and she lives in the same city, knows where my DF works, knows where my DF's parents live and knows where most of my DF's family lives. My DF decided years ago that LittlePeace did not belong with his mother. He became the sole guardian when the difficult child was 8 months old, and has been taking care of him ever since.

    The difficult child has been evaluated many times since he was about 4 years old. Addreal was prescribed when he was 8 for the ADHD. He was on that for three years, but he stopped growing and lost too much weight, so he was taken off the medications. He has been seeing a therapist since then, but he tells the therapist what he wants to hear, and leads the therapist to believe nothing is wrong with HIM, and everyone else is just lying about his behavior. He has an appointment this coming Friday with the therapist, and I have been talking to my psychiatrist throughout all of this. That has really helped me deal with this. My DF has said that if this behavior continues, the difficult child may need to go to the hospital and be evaluated by someone else, and maybe be admitted.

    LittlePeace's step-mom got him a cell phone for his birthday (God only knows why), which has been LOTS of fun. He is at his great-grandma's for spring-break (one of the women he will behave for - she's FEISTY!! LOL), but he has been texting me and his dad all day, telling us he's bored. He has his books, TV and a game system over there, just like here, and that's what he'd be doing at home (if he isn't being punished). I know he just wants to be home with me all week, bugging me, because he told us this. Well, my DF called him, and told him that if he didn't stop, and if he keeps doing that, at all this whole week, he will lose all priveleges over there too. I give it two hours.

    Has anyone found it helpful to not tell a child like this when something gets to them? It seems to just make LittlePeace want to do whatever is annoying either of us even more. By the way, my DF spoke to his boss, and will no longer be working so many hours a week. He will be working a normal 40-hour week from now on, which will be WONDERFUL! Now, I will only be by myself with LittlePeace for an hour and a half each evening before my DF gets home.
  16. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I think you should get into family therapy. And don't expect LittlePeace to care what you think or are new to him and his father picked you out...LittlePeace had nothing to say about it.

    I was divorced three years before my kids ever met anyone I dated (they didn't even know I dated). After three years (and two OTHER years on top of that separated from hub) the kids were still hostile toward the idea of another man in my life and they took it out on my current husband.

    I think it's great that your fiance's son's dad will have more time to spend with him and that the pressure will be taken off of you. You should not have to be this child's main caregiver. Also, if YOU try to discipline him, he could resist you and resent you...I don't know if it's like that in your house, but my kids would NOT listen to my hub. Only now that they are grown do they like It took a long time :)
  17. Peace Please

    Peace Please New Member

    Yeah, I forgot to mention this yesterday, but all three of us are scheduled for a family therapy session right after LittlePeace's therapist appointment. My DF is going to insist that he be evaluated and tested for any mental and physical problems he may be suffering from. Thank you again, everyone, for your support and suggestions. It really helps to know that there are others out there dealing with similar issues.
  18. Peace Please

    Peace Please New Member

    Overload, welcome to the board. I am brand new too. We will definitely try giving LittlePeace a choice when asking him to do something he doesn't want to do. This may just work with him.