Nice 11 yo Boy with- Big Passive Aggressive Problems

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by WSM, Apr 29, 2008.

  1. WSM

    WSM New Member

    My husband has full custody of his 11 year old son (I'm the wicked stepmother). We do not know if he has mental illness, emotional difficulties, or is just ornery.

    His biological mother and her two brothers are severely mentally ill, the brothers are fully disabled with schizophrenia, and his mother was also diagnosed with schizophrenia, but now is diagnosed with bipolar with psychosis. She is Baker Acted about 3 times a year and spends months at a time in psychosis. Currently she is homeless and in psychosis (judging from the phone calls we got a couple weeks ago). My husband has full custody and she has supervised visitation at my husband's discretion. So Son11 might have some of her mental health issues.

    My husband got custody of Son11 at age 3 and a half. His biological mother's behavior in the first years of Son11's life was difficult. Several times she fled and Son11 was taken into custody until Dad could retrieve and twice put into foster homes in other states for a couple days until Dad could get there. As an early baby my husband would sometimes have to call the police to remove Son11 from his mother's arms to feed him. Son11 remembers his mom being 'sick' and is afraid of her being sick. He also is very fond of her, even though he sees her maybe six times a year at MacDonalds for an hour or two supervised public visitation. So maybe some of Son11's problems are psychologically or emotionally based.

    My husband and I remarried when Son11 was seven. Son11 has a now 8-year old biological sister, Daughter8, of whom my husband got full custody of as well. The last time the children's mother fled with the kids, Daughter 8 was 5 days old, and by the time the children were recovered by the police a week later, Daughter8 had to be hospitalized from neglect. I brought three older boys into the marriage, an 18 year old, a 16 year old, and a 13 year old. The kids all get along very well, however, Son11, although initially enthusiastic about the remarriage, now makes it clear he dislikes his father's remarriage, and he has actively tried to break up the family. So his problems may be that he's just acting out over the remarriage.

    We do not know what the problem is. Most likely it is a combination of many factors. Son11's been in some sort of counselling since about age 4, with a year break about a year ago because he hated it, it made him feel different and odd, and it wasn't helping. His diagnoses have been: obsessive compulsion, oppositional defiant disorder, passive-aggressive disorder, schizoid personality disorder (with the disclaimer he could not be officially diagnosed with this until he was 18), attachment disorder, "fragmented, non-sequential and tangential thinking", a right-brain/left-brain diagnosis of something that confuses us, and most frustratingly, he's been diagnosed as having nothing wrong. We've heard he's just immature, or just a square peg in a round hole. These diagnoses have been ruled out: austism, ausperger's syndrome, learning disabilities, and childhood schizophrenia or bi polar disorder.

    His personality is: very polite, helpful, bright, conscientious, friendly and responsive. He never talks back, never has a temper tantrum, and is never grouchy or irritable. He seems like such a nice boy, and yet the problems are awful.

    The biggest are he's been arrested three times for the felony of bringing a weapon to school: a gun, two knives, and a razor blade. THe school covered up the razor blade. Although there is no tolerance for weapons in school, principal did not expell him or put him in an alternative school. The courts just keep continuing the case. We have no idea what his legal status is actually; did they drop the case? Probably. But they didn't tell us. We don't know. He has a probation officer, but the man after the initial interview, promised he'd be in close contact, never contacted us again.

    However, the State Attorney General's Office did send a letter saying that if Son11 got into any further trouble it would be mandatory that he be remanded to a juvenile detention facility. This scares me down to my core. It would be beyond horrible to put an 11 year old into that hell hole. Son11 did go through a diversion program, but it was very unsuitable: he learned all sorts of things he didn't know before, such as huffing (which he doesn't do, no drugs or substance abuse). The probation officer made Son11 read the letter outloud and explained to him that he 'wouldn't last a night there', that he'd be beaten and raped and that the staff couldn't watch him all the time.

    The other major problem is Son11 is very interested in promoted himself as 'poor abused little boy'. He repeatedly accused accused us of physical abuse. It started in second grade when he told a lunchroom aid his father put a bump on his head. CPS was called, no bump found, he retracted his story, and then 'remembered' it was me who put the bump on his head (he admitted he wanted his father arrested so my oldest son 14 at the time, would take care of him). He once went to the park and instead of playing, started knocking on strangers doors begging for food and water (although he walked past a drinking fountain), saying his parents were starving him. He once came up with a two hour spiel about how I was mistreating him to include I was poisoning him, I stuck him with pins and needles, stole his bike and homework (he claims he stood in the backyard and watched me do it, although what he descibed having happened couldn't be viewed from the backyard--still he stuck to the story, tears and all), etc... My husband got an emergency family counselling appointment through the school system, and all Son11 could do was complain that he wasn't being allowed to go to Orlando with a new friend whose family we didn't know.

    Tonight at dinner he looked unhappy. I asked what was wrong. He said he wasn't hungry but he was afraid Dad would beat him up again if he didn't finish. Dad once said Son11 needed to eat more, he's underweight. I said, Son11, you have never been beat up. You've been smacked a couple times, but you've never been beat up. He just stared at me.
    Maybe you all think Dad should be flamed for smacking him a couple times, but nothing works. Sentences, standing in corners, push up, restrictions, losing privileges, DON'T WORK. The police have explained to Son11 that Dad is allowed to spank him. The probation officer told him that dad is allowed to. And the CPS bulldog that investigated us even said it was okay. Before you flame, please, I'm just being honest. It was something that's been tried because not only are we but so many people are frustrated with him.

    There's so much more to the story. Please read it all before you judge. We need help.

    Son11 has also taken to complaining about abuse from us to friends, neighbors, my older kids' girlfriends, strangers in the park, and the parents of his friends. My husband and I have gotten cold shoulders all over. On December 5, he told some boy he'd met that afternoon on the next street how his stepmother beat him up. The boy's very young parents put Son11 in a car outside our neighbor's house and refused to release him or take him to the police. We called the police to got Son11 back. Son11's reason for doing this (it's in the police report): he wanted to play more video games. Although Son11 admitted he took the gun and one of the knives to school, when he was caught with the second knife, he said it was 'planted' on him. A few weeks later he got caught with a razor blade, and to divert attention he came up with the story that the night before I, a 170 lb woman, jumped on his back three times, then pulled him up by his hair. CPS was called and the next morning, my husband took him to the CPS physician to be checked for child abuse. Result: nothing. And the doctors were very interested in psychiatric history; more time was spent on that rather than any abuse investigation. The CPS investigation went nowhere.

    Son11 has also disappeared from home on a couple of occasions. It's not running away; he's not hiding, he's just vanishing. One night the police found him wandering the streets at about 2 am with his pajamas over his clothes and no shoes. He said he was going to the grocery store (he was not walking in his sleep). We took him home and put a motion sensor alarm on his door. That same night he went out the door window in his bedroom, jumped on the shed roof and disappeared before 6 am and sat in the middle of the park near his school. The police found him about 10 hours later after a huge manhunt with helicopters, a dog, automatic telephone calls, etc...

    There are also many other problems. Son11 throws away his shoes. He goes between 20 and 30 pairs of shoes a year, no exaggeration. He lost 4 pairs over Christmas break this year. We now usually check them in and out at night. He will keep them for a couple weeks, then start throwing them out. He also throws out his school uniforms. We have to keep them locked in our room too. For two years running he's thrown away his Halloween costume; this year he threw away his sister's costume too. And her Daddy-Daughter dance dress, and he other nice clothes. He's thrown away her school uniforms too at times, though no recently. He will take and destroy her toys. He also sneaks in the older kids' rooms and takes things.

    There are so many other problems: disappearing homework, his disappearing bikes, games with schoolwork (such as inserting nonsense phrases and mean phrases in the body of the text--and claiming someone else did it), lost projects, no school pictures or report cards. He enjoys school, does very well on tests and schoolwork, and is in no way a discipline problem, but still sabotages himself consistently.

    He also indulges in some 'weird' behaviors. Standing and staring, even in the dark at night. Sneaking out early in the morning and pretending he'd sat in the backyard all night. Kicking a soccer ball back and forth for hours and hours accross the backyard. Throwing away his toys or breaking them, even toys he likes a lot. Refusing to participate in family activities and when forced to pretending not to enjoy himself even though he is (example: the kids will tell jokes at the table, and he'll turn his head and try to not smile). Cleaning the pool for hours and hours and hours. An inablity to answer questions directly or answer the question asked interspersed with complete truth or a farfetched story. He'll write an essay or a project, then 'disappear' pages of it, pretend he didn't know what happened to them, and have to rewrite them, only to have them disappear again. He once spent about 40 hours on a 3 hour science project and also caused his father's digital camera to disappear to boot. Once he pooped outside for no reason; once he peed in his clothes hamper.

    On two occasions that we know about he has self harmed. At day camp last summer, he started hitting his head on the table. The staff couldn't get him to stop, so they put paper under his head. Once he stopped he started to pull the hair out of his arm. Another occasion, when he was suspended for taking the first knife to school, the police came to the door to Baker Act him; apparently in their investigation, they found something that made them think he was an imminent danger to himself. But when they talked to him at home, they changed their minds. Once he claimed he wanted to kill himself (yes he was taken to a therapist immediately). On another occasion, we found a picture he'd drawn that was kind of scary with him holding two knives while his head exploded and while he was jumping on his sister and his dad hung upside down.

    On the surface he's a delightful kid. The reality is that every week there's something important missing, broken, not done, lied about. There are so many more things I haven't written about. He's no OVERT discipline problem anywhere, he's friendly, helpful, polite, well behaved, and gentle. But he won't stop throwing away his clothes, shoes, and personal items, sneaking and lying, accusing people of abuse or trying to elicit pity from strangers, or sabotaging himself, or maybe even taking weapons to school. When we seem to stop one game, he starts another--all with an innocent, clueless, bewildered look on his face as he denies it, or a flat, indifferent confession: "Yes I did it, because I wanted to". There's a nonstop stream of passively provocative behavior, punctuated by huge crises that involve CPS, the police or the school.

    Thank you for reading this, we are so frustrated and in despair.

    We thought we might have found a weekday residential behavior modification program that is close and we can afford. But today was the interview with Son11 and my husband doesn't think he'll be accepted. We are in such despair. We feel so alone. We are sick with stress. Our whole life is distorted and revolves around this boy. And we are failing him, the other kids, ourselves, our marriage.

    signed, the Wicked Step Mother
  2. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Hi and welcome to the board. With the history of schizophrenia on the family tree, and since mental illness is inherited, I would want him completely looked at by a Psychiatrist (with the MD). Forget the counselor. in my opinion he needs the Top Gun watching him from now on. He is at high risk to develop schizophrenia or bipolar and I doubt that he is just being ornery. Please, please take him to an Adolescent Psychiatrist as soon as possible, and be sure to tell him/her the entire genetic background so that he knows what to watch for. If he is developming a full blown mental illness, a residential treatment center would not be the first choice nor do I feel it would help. He would need the proper medication management along with therapy to understand his problem. People who are mentally ill often can not follow rules like they have in RTCs and they don't do them any good. Good luck.
  3. meowbunny

    meowbunny New Member

    I have no advice, no suggestions, just wanted to welcome you and let you know you're not alone. It sounds like he is going through his own personal hell and the rest of the family is along for the ride.

    I'm sure others will come along and have some suggestions for you.

    For now, HUGS.
  4. Sara PA

    Sara PA New Member

    Has the child had any neurological testing done? EEG? MRI?

    Any chance mom drank while pregnant?

    Is he or has he been on any medications?
  5. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    I second MM. Welcome- and let us know how it is going! I would stress, this kid needs to see a child & adolescent certified psychiatrist right away.
  6. WSM

    WSM New Member

    He's been to two pediatric psychiatrists. One yelled at my husband, "Why do you want him medicated? Why do you think something is wrong with him?" The other, within the last six months, said, "If we start him on medication, he'll probably be on it for life. It's best to hold off as long as possible."

    It seems like every kid on earth gets medicated. We really think he needs something for depression or anxiety, if only something mild. It's possible that the anxiety builds up and then he acts out. We don't know. I've suggested taking him to a neurologist and recently someone else has too, but my husband is so behind at work and more appts, it's sort of has to wait until summer.

    The thing is, this boy's been in therapy for most of his life, he knows how to play the game. He even says things like, "I did that for positive reinforcement." Huh? He's guarded and presents very, very well. He doesn't seem to have problems. Every school year the teachers all start out enthusiastic, sure behavior modification will work. And it sort of does, but every year by the end of the year they are burned out, and are glad to see him move on, even as they say what a nice boy he is, so polite, and friendly, and helpful and smart.

    Polite, friendly, helpful, and smart with decent grades, doesn't get much reaction. If he tantrummed it would almost be better. But he shows almost NO anger or irritation EVER. That's a sign of something, don't you think?
  7. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    Well, it sounds to me like you have already held out as long as possible. (Not to be harsh with you- it just sounds like that psychiatrist wasn't getting the full concept here.) I'm more of the opnion that holding off on treatment only hurts the kid's chances for recovery or effectiveness. I think the sooner adequate, appropriate treatment is given, the better the chances the kid has and the sooner you find peace for your family.

    You could try the hospital route- that should help. Others will probably have some opinions too.
  8. Sara PA

    Sara PA New Member

    You might think that he could use a little something for anxiety and/or depression (though it you haven't said anything that indicates either are a problem for him) but the truth is that anxiety is very difficult to treat and antidepressants far too often have psychiatric side effects that could make what you have now look like the good ole days.
  9. Big Bad Kitty

    Big Bad Kitty lolcat

    Welcome to the board.

    From the thoroughness of your story, I would say that you are anything but wicked. That boy is lucky to have you and a good father in his life.

    I also agree with the others, a full evaluation needs to be done. He could have one or more of many issues. None of us here can diagnose your son, but there are plenty of us who have been where you are.

    So glad that you found us. So sorry that you had to. Rest assured you found a soft place to land; we are not here to judge.
  10. Christy

    Christy New Member

    Welcome. You've found a great place to come for support and advice.

    I'm sorry for your struggles and for the problems your stepson is experiencing. Given the family history, there is a strong possibility of schizophrenia. Have a thorough evaluation completed ASAP. Share what you have written here with a psychiatrist. Does your stepson offer any explaination for the odd behaviors like throwing away clothes or the "missing" pages. It seems like it could be paranoia. Does he have hallucination or hear voices? Good luck in finding help for your stepson and support for the rest of your family as well.
  11. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    With the family history of mental illness via Mom's side, I'd definately have him re-evaled and make sure it's done properly. Never hurts to check out the physical side of things while you're at it, good physical with fam doctor or pediatrician doctor, checked out by neurologist.

    Schizophrenia is a big thing in my family tree on my mother's side. Grandfather, aunt, my mother all have it. Nephew is suspected, but refuses treatment so who knows. Bipolar is another big issue in the family tree.

    I'm not a huge fan of medications. But a blanket statement that if he should start now means he'll be on them for life I don't agree with. I am bipolar. I taken medications when I become unstable, which for me is a rare event. Normally I can maintain stability without medications.(we're talking years) Alot of the medication issues depends on dxes, and also on the person.

    My son I chose not to medicate. In his case I didn't feel the need although I did have it suggested several times. With daughter Nichole the time came when there was no choice, and frankly medications made the difference for her.

    Many of us have gone thru our fair share of docs along the way. There is nothing wrong with getting another opinion if you don't agree with or are unsure of the one you've got. As with anything else in life, there are good and not so good psychiatrists. I've had to weed thru a few bad ones to find the good ones.

    Sounds like your son could be having several things going on, including perhaps a mental disorder in the mix. A good sound evaluation is the place to start.

    Welcome to the board! I'm glad you found us.

  12. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Welcome aboard. And nobody here is going to judge you for smacking the child occasionally, in the past. For many of us here, we've found it doesn't work, and there can be other reasons for us to not smack, but if a parent here says smacking is working for them, and they are not doing it to cause harm or for vengeance - who are we to argue? I suspect that with just about all of us, very few of us haven't smacked at some stage. If you went back a generation, i would say that even fewer of us were raised with no smacking.

    Times change. Smacking is falling out of favour now, but that doesn't mean that those who have ever smacked their kids, are evil or abusive. We're a bit more wary on the subject here in Australia, because right next door in New Zealand it is now illegal to smack your child. That was brought in because apparently in some families there, the smacking DOES reach the point of abuse but the parents don't see it that way because it was how they were raised. So the government, to make it a blanket rule, said "no smacking ever, at all, by anyone."

    You definitely are not a wicked stepmother, not with all you're doing. I understand the level of your concern - how on earth do you cope?

    While some of his behaviour might be him trying to break up your marriage, I think there is a great deal more going on here. I had a good friend i my teens who was trying to break up her mother's remarriage, and I remember (with shame) the things we used to do and say to her stepfather, at her instigation. But she never did anything like this. Breaking his own toys? Cleaning the pool for hours? And yet showing no anger or irritation, ever. And yet he keeps disappearing? He's got to be feeling anger in there, somewhere. And yet he won't express it? Frankly, if he were trying to harm your relationship then venting his anger constantly would be a good start.

    I think you are very right to be so concerned for him - this goes way beyond, "I'm not happy that my father has remarried." He is unstable and trying to find his own ways to regain stability, only he doesn't know what is wrong or where to start.

    Stick around here, people here can help. Also, if you can get your husband to stick around here too, it might help him. There are other blokes here, so he won't be on his own in an all-female enclave!

    I hope you can get the answers you need for this poor lad. It sounds like he's been falling through the cracks of the system for far too long.

    If nothing else, the people on this site will give you the confidence to say to doctors, "There IS something wrong - help him."

  13. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I need to clarify what I said :) Right now he doesn't sound like he has a thought disorder. But I would want him in the care of a GOOD Psychiatrist (they are not all created equal) because he is at high risk to develop schizophrenia or bipolar and if that day comes, he will need medication. Perhaps a good Psychiatrist can spot signs before they become obvious and stabilize him before it gets worse. I was told that unmedicated bipolar just causes worse cycling (I have bipolar and am completely unstabale without medications). However, with my medications I live a normal life. It's like diabetes to me. I take my two medications every night and life goes on. I understand waiting to the last for medication, but serious psychiatric problems, based on body chemistry, need treatment just like any medical disorder. Right now, something may be emerging. Schizophrenia and Bipolar can be there when kids are very young, but often develop late and, in the case of schizophrenia, a seemingly "normal" child can almost get sick overnight. Often this is in the teens, but can happen as late as the twenties. Usually there were some signs, not obvious, that were passed up. in my opinion it's best to have the best help in place just in case. A good therapist can augment the treatment. Anyway, no matter what you do, good luck!
  14. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Welcome, Wicked Stepmother!
    You have written such a thorough description that it sounds to me like it's a combination of inherited illness (pjs outside of clothes and outside in middle of the night) and deliberate manipulation.
    What sorts of consequences do you have for making up stories? For throwing away shoes? Does he have to work around the house or yard to earn money to pay for a new pair?
    I would definitely find a new child psychiatric.
    But even with-o medications or a good diagnosis right now, it seems like you could do some behavior modification. For example, when he says, "I just did that for positive reinforcement" (or whatever the phrase was--I can't find it now), you can reply, "I like it as much as you do when you do something for positive reinforcent. Let's keep it up."
    Also, keep in mind that kids with-attachment disorder often deliberately try to drive away adults, so they can prove that they are, in fact, unloved. Paradoxical, for sure, but painfully true.
    Do you tell him that you love him? I know it's hard, given his behavior.
    Welcome to the board. You've got your hands full. I know what you mean by saying everything revolves around him.
  15. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    Welcome, wonderfulstepmother,

    You are FAR from wicked. You are very caring, to have taken this child into your heart (andit is clear you have) and to keep trying and trying.

    I think it may be time to find a Children's Hospital and have them do a full physical, neurological, psychiatric, psychological, and neuropsychological workup. I might even throw in a developmental pediatrician workup to see what is going on.

    You really HAVE held off a long time with these behaviors. I don'thave a clue what is wrong, but strongly see that SOMETHING is wrong.

    Do you go to appts with your husband? Can you take your son to some of hte appts for testing with-o your husband? Or must it be your husband because the step-issue? I don't have this issue, so I don't know how it works.

    NO ONE here will flame you for occasionally smacking him. You know it doesn't work, but sometimes it seems like it might be worth a try, Know what I mean??? But with all his abuse allegations, it might be time to do what you can to not smack.

    I have to say, personally, I would be having docs test for any/every thing they could think of - rule out EVERY kind of physical problem. Just to maybe find out what is going on. But I know it can be terribly expensive.

    I am sorry you have this to deal with. It is much harder to get help when they are not overtly a problem.

    What do you do when he throws away his shoes? Have you ever taken him to go find them? I am just curious here, this seems so strange.

    There is a thread on the forum about a Parent Report. It is a document YOU create showing what is going on, has gone on, what tests, behavior mod plans, etc have been tried. You take it to every meeting, with copies for docs, etc.... Just be careful who you give copies to, not everyone will use the info appropriately.

    I also wanted to comment as shortly as I am capable (I can be a tad wordy, as you can see - sorry) about holding off on medications as long as possible.

    with some disorders, holding off on medications is NOT a good idea. with bipolar the cycles create neurological pathways in the brain that actually CHANGE the brain and how it works. If left untreated, SOME bipolars can become sort of "addicted" to the manic stage. It can get to a point where it is very hard to treat with medications because the brain has changed so much. So holding off is NOT always the best idea, though medications are NOT for every one, esp every child.

    Psychiatric/psychological diagnosis are very subjective. It is nto like a blood test where you can clearly see what is going on. You may have one or thirty docs "rule out" something, then find that that something is really the problem. A lotof parenting our kids is following the mommy instincts until you find a way to help. when push comes to shove, trust your mommy instincts (and dad's daddy instincts) WAY more than ANY doctor. The doctor sees your kid for a few minutes - YOU see every day. YOU are the EXPERT on your children, NOT someone who went to school and got some degrees. You need their help, but if you think they are wrong, then keep pushing 'til you find a doctor who CAN help.