New here...struggling as a step mom


New Member
My two daughters (now 12 and 15) and I moved in and blended families with my boyfriend (now finacee) and his two sons (now 12 and 17) three years ago. His 17 year old son has been diagnosed with learning disabilities (ADD) since a young age and more recently Depression. Things are getting tougher on the school and homefronts as the years go on. He has zero motivation, lacks empathy, has extreme difficulty socially, and is very narcissistic. Issues are escalating between him and his mother so he has been primarily living with us lately.

We have gone to great lengths to get him excited in something and support him. His grandfather recently bought him a truck but he is unmotivated to study for his driving test although he can spend hours researching what he wants to buy for his truck online with money he does not have because he is unmotivated to look for a part time job. He thinks a lot about money and wants a lot so he can buy all the things he dreams about but wants none of the responsibility and shows no interest in planning for his future. Ughhhh

Lately he is getting himself in sticky situations at school being disrespectful to teachers and feeling entitled to do what he wants when he wants. He is very immature in his thinking, lack self-reflection, and cannot see the error in his approach with others. He is always the "victim".

He watches TV endlessly and fantasizes about guns (I find pictures he prints out of guns in the middle of the night in my printer in the morning). He recently told his father and therapist that some of his friends are taking drugs and he fantasizes about "taking out the drug dealer" in order to help them but in the next breath also says he fantasizes about "taking the dealer's place and making lots of money" Personally I don't worry about him dealing because he lacks and motivation to get off the couch, is a complete homebody, and he doesn't have the street savvy (he is pretty intellectually impaired). I do worry about him experimenting because he is trying to fit in. He really struggles to make friends.

Today he took a butter knife from our home and brought it to school. He was caught cutting up a paper plate into small pieces with it and received 2 in school detentions. I'm sure when his father talks to him later he'll just say he didn't think it was a big deal. There have been many of these situations lately in which he shows very poor judgment. I feel it's been with more frequency since he was placed on anti-depressents.

I am beginning to get very concerned that this is heading down a dark road and I worry about my kids getting in the cross hairs. My girls and his brother are growing more frustrated everyday as this boy feels the house rules don't apply to him when they have to obey them. My finacee often loses his temper but doesn't deliver consequences. He picks my brains for ways to address situations but then doesn't follow through because he becomes to agitated. I try not to step in too much with the discipline because I don't feel it is my role. So I feel helpless in this situation and feel that when I do lovingly offer advice to the son, he gives me the "I could careless" demeanor. He only is interested when it effects him directly not at all about how his choices and behavior effect others and our family.

I have been through a lot of really tough stuff in my life, but have felt the power to make changes. In this situation I don't feel that way. I am considering getting a therapist for the first time ever. I don't want to leave this relationship. My daughters and I have invested a lot into creating a new home life and family, but I worry about all the red flags. I don't want them to be in a dangerous home.

Advice please...


Well-Known Member
Hi, hon. Sorry for the problems. I think you nailed it yourself.
No matter how much you may love your boyfriend, his son is a problem and it does not sound as if he is even safe around your daughters. I think you need to maybe get therapy and decide if this is something you really want to do. His son is going to be a negative and very hard factor for years.

Maybe you can just go back to dating him and move out and see how this things shakes out with son. Sounds like he is probably taking drugs.

You are not helpless at all. In fact, you create your own life's destiny. You can choose your daughters and your own life and decide that, yes, he's a nice man, but that this is too much chaos and that you don't want to live with it. You are right about one thing. You are helpless to change this son of your bfs. Only he can change himself and he doesn't sound like he wants to change.

I suggest you hop over to the Parent Emeritus form, which is for parents of difficult children who are over 18 and read our stories. All of them. This kid sounds like he's heading that way and your husband sounds like he blows a lot of hot air, but isn't willing to put him out of the house even if he IS dangerous.Has he stolen from his dad yet? Gotten violent with Dad or your girls? Broken things (which is a form of violence). Talked threats (another form of violence). Do you like the yelling and fighting in the house?Has he ever been sexually inappropriate with or around your daughters? I'd put my daughters needs first here.

As for this kid again, I truly don't think he should have a truck. What a disaster it will be if he has his own truck and drives as irresponsibly as he is with the rest of his life. Don't ever allow him to drive your daughters or yourself anywhere. ''

I think you can probably find and deserve a more stable situation and that this is a walking timebomb, however it is your destiny and your decision. I am very glad you are seeing a therapist!

Talking to this young man won't help him, especially come from you. Lay low. You aren't related to is the one who has to do something and he may NOT be able to control this type of almost-grown child. Read again on Parent Emeritus about how hard we tried to change our difficult adult children, and this son is one year from being legal. I believe he can deal. It doesn't take energy, just the love of easy money and a disregard of the law. Most users also sell. It goes hand-in-hand. He would not do it around you, but drug users are incredibly sneaky. Did Dad ever check his room completely when he wasn't home? I would suggest it just to see what is going on under your roof.

Welcome to the board :)
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Well-Known Member
Coming at this from a different perspective... I'm going to guess that there is more going on with this kid than ADD/ADHD... and likely that the dad shares some of the same traits. Maybe Asperger's or autism spectrum somewhere?

Some kids can fly under the radar until they hit teen years, and then fall apart because everything that used to "work", now doesn't.


Well-Known Member
Welcome and Midwest is right, his dad needs to get him to every Dr appointment he can now to help him. ( Evaluations/therapy) Because he will be 18 soon and you cant do anything then. You need to ask your fiancee whats going to happen when his son is 18 or if he does to drugs,how will he handle it. How will you handle it? Or at least how he thinks he will( I know one may never really know until their in that situation) Insane is right, they can fly under the radar until they hit teen years, proof with my daughter although there were doubts..Hugs and good luck.


New Member
Thank you all for your support and perspectives. I do work with teens and young adults with Aspergers and Autism and my step son doesn't seem to have many of the common traits I see with my students but it is currently being looked at as a possibility in his psychiatric evaluations. We are making sure he goes to every appointment and takes his prescribed medications.

His father does not have any ADD/ADHD traits but his biological mother does and she, I truly believe, also has a Personality Disorder (a whole other issue in dealing with this child). She fits every single characteristic for Narscissitic Personality Disorder in the DSM.

Luckily we have not yet seen any evidence of drug use yet other than his fantasizing about selling to make money but like I said before I worry he might someday.

I did have a long talk with my daughters this weekend in more depth about his issues and how to not engage in any back talk with him. I explained that he struggles with social skills and depression and that although he can be very annoying at times we need to understand and not escalate anything. I have told them to come to me about everything and anything that bothers them and we can gauge the situation together. They are both very mature. Neither of them want to move as they are very happy despite this difficulty but said they'd let me know if they felt unsafe.


Well-Known Member
I have a spectrum son who is 21 and he doesn't sound spectrumish to me either. I spent many years in a parent group where their kids came with and autistic kids are usually very gentle and naive. A few may have youngish tantrums, but they aren't malicious. I doubt Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) or ADD are causing this behavior. It's way too extreme.

The gun fantasies would scare me. Does your boyfriend have guns in the house? I hope not. If so, he had better lock them up and never show this kid the key. God help me, I hope he isn't teaching this kid to shoot or hunt...he is not safe with weapons.

He sounds more like he may be heading for a personality disorder, like mom. Be careful. I hope he has never been sexual around your girls. I don't know how old they are, but this is one thing some kids do not share even if they are close to their mothers. I know first hand. That's my biggest concern although shoving your girls around is pretty horrible too. This kid isn't 13. He's almost a man. And he's shoving your daughter's around.

Trust me, it is easier to get out of a relationship, in spite of how hard you tried to create a family, than to pick up unpleasant pieces of that family and relationship that you did not know about. There are huge red flags flying around this young man. If he's on drugs, that only makes it worse. If he's not, that's almost scarier. Ask yourself, why did Mom toss him off on Dad? What did he do to have her want him to live elsewhere? The mom usually wants the kids with her...I'm glad you are seeing a therapist for you. The fact is, you aren't married yet and you can still get out if you decide that is best for you and your girls.
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Well-Known Member
His father does not have any ADD/ADHD traits but his biological mother does and she, I truly believe, also has a Personality Disorder (a whole other issue in dealing with this child). She fits every single characteristic for Narcissistic Personality Disorder in the DSM.
Well then there you go - mom's DNA can have a great negative effect on their offspring. I just wrote this about my daughter on another thread but I will re-post it here because it looks similar to my situation:
"It is only recently that I connected by daughters connection to DNA. Also, I was not a good disciplinarian. Probably because I saw physical abuse as a child by my maternal grandmother and I knew it was not normal because I didn't suffer this type of abuse from my parents. Probably determined early that I would never hurt my own child. So do the math and add up: only child + bad DNA + no discipline = disaster - in her case sociopath or some other mental illness with sociopath tendencies."
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