ODD pre-teen

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by cdmcorp, May 2, 2008.

  1. cdmcorp

    cdmcorp New Member

    I'm new here as well. I have a 12 year old step-son (will be 13 next month) and my wife and I have diagnosed him as ODD. We got a book titled "10 Days to a Less Defiant Child." It's like someone was in our home writing things down because I can identify with it all. My problem is that I antagonize him because he gets on my nerves. My prior military background doesn't help because I'm used to instant willing obedience to orders...He came into my life when he was 5. His dad was having trouble with alcohol at the time and we moved from CA to Texas to start our life after we got married. By all my wife's accounts he was a difficult baby, and his uncle exhibited the same behaviors that he has. She said he could just walk into a room and the mood got gloomy. Our two children who are 4 (son) and 2(girl) are seemingly normal; slept through the night from 6 weeks on. I know they make me more predjudice against her son and I show favoritism.

    He did go back and live with his dad, which lasted a year. When his dad started dating, and eventually married this woman, she really befriended him. (They also now have a 4 year old daughter) The Christmas/summer visits were part of the problem because they spoiled him every chance they got. It gave him an attitude that he was better than us. I finished college and make good money, my wife stays home with the little ones and has not really worked since late 2004. And I don't feel like I should spend money on something that I get so little in return for (bad investment). Anyway we got to a point in early 2006 where he was threatening to go live with his dad all the time and we finally called him and he agreed that his son should live with him. The first six months were blissful. They got him a cell phone (what 11 year old doesn't need one?) and anything else he wanted. He came to visit us that Christmas and was talking to his step-mom like every 5 minutes and texting her. It made my wife sick. He finally blew up because I wouldn't let him buy a cheap camera at Toys R Us because he hadn't opened his gifts from his dad yet and I wanted him to wait and get a good one that would last. He called his dad and asked if he could change his flight, ready to come home, etc, etc. The bliss lasted another month before the real boy starts to shine through and he could no longer maintain the facade. They hadn't been in touch with us since Christmas, mainly because I started an e-mail 'urinary olimpiad' about who got to claim him on their taxes. But we got an e-mail not long before school was out that said he was coming back and didn't want to live there any more. I figured it would last about that long because dad can't cope. My wife knows how to get what she wants out of him, but I'm too damn stubborn (although I've read that you gain power by giving up power, just hard to apply in real life). They also mailed all his things back in a box, even framed certificates and pictures. I got the impression that they don't want him back!

    I'm to a point now that I've had my fill of his BS. And I know that it isn't his fault that his brain is wired wrong but he just doesn't get it. He taunts me and calls me retard (he's the one with 3 F's), tells me to shut up when he doesn't get his way. I started popping him and getting physical but he still doesn't get the pain association. Never has. It's very hard for me to give up power because he thinks we're equals and just can't fathom why life is so unfair.

    My wife told me this morning that it isn't fair to either one of us to keep in this situation. I have no intention of splitting up MY family because of him. He says all the time that I hate him and asks me to admit it. I won't do that even though my feelings for him are far from love. I guess we need to see a doctor to get a plan to deal with this before I completely lose it, or my wife moves out. I think she'd go and leave the two of us together at this point. He always has to have the last word and thinks he's not wrong.
  2. KTMom91

    KTMom91 Well-Known Member

    Welcome to the board! Sounds like you and I are living in parallel households...

    It's hard on the step-parent, my husband deals with a similar attitude from my daughter, but it's also hard on the natural parent who gets caught in the middle. Miss KT informs Hubby on a regular basis that "I was here first."

    It's very difficult to deal rationally with someone who isn't rational. There's no reward great enough and no punishment great enough. That's a big part of my frustration...how stupid are you to not get this? Even though I KNOW she has a mental disability, I still ask that question probably way too often.

    Is he on medications? Has there been any kind of testing done on him?
  3. cdmcorp

    cdmcorp New Member

    He's on Concerta but has run out. His step-mother was refilling and sending but has not recently. Need to get him on my insurance.

    I think his dad had some testing done when he lived there and they came up with ADD and got him started on the Concerta. We'd taken him once and they said he was emotionally disturbed and he was on a medication I can't think of but he always refused to take it! A little tiny pill.

    I need to do something because my sweet little girl is starting to repeat what he says and it breaks my heart. I don't want my children to see us going at it or me restraining him so that I can say my piece without him telling me to shut up. Funny thing is he'll even argue with the little ones. My son who's 4 will tell him not to say that and he'll start arguing with him.

    2 things stand out in my mind that make me think the ODD is plausible: 1. When he was 8 years old I remember thinking that I didn't think I'd be this dumb until he was a teenager and 2. That he was possessed and needed an exorcism. My wife always said he has two extremes and goes back to being 'sunshine boy.' I can't stand it because he'll come in our bedroom the morning after a big blowup and want to play Wii (which was a Christmas gift for both of us to we'd play together) as if nothing happened. Or I come home from work and he acts like everything is fine. I just want an apology or admission that he did something untoward. Guess that's asking too much.
  4. janebrain

    janebrain New Member

    I don't know all the mental health problems that might be involved, but I can tell you that if you engage in a power struggle with a kid you will never win, never! Also, the step-parent cannot be the primary disciplinarian. I really think you and your wife need to be seeing a therapist to learn how to deal with this kid and he needs to be in therapy too. Your authoritarian methods are not going to work.

    Sorry you are having such a rough time, I do sympathize. Others will be along with advice soon!

  5. KarenB

    KarenB New Member

    I know my husband, being the step parent in our family, can surely empathize with your situation. Your stepson sounds a lot like my son. I sense your anger and you're not alone. I also don't want my new 6 month old to be subjected to my 13 yr old's behavior. I'm afraid he will end up in juvenile detention soon. He has already stolen from our neighbor's house. He steals from all the family, including me and my husband. If he speaking, he's lying. He just stole library books from school, eight of them. I don't know how he manages to get away with these things when he does them, but he's very vindictive and sneaky. I believe he thinks he's entitled to everone else's possessions.

    I don't know why I said all that. It doesn't help you except to tell you that you're not alone. Try not to lose hope. I still believe there may be one thing that will finally change things for the better. You may want to have someone do a complete psychiatric evaluation on him as soon as you get him on your insurance. I'm new here too so I know others can give you the best advice. Hang in there the best you can.
  6. cdmcorp

    cdmcorp New Member

    You're so right Jane! My wife has said the very thing it's just hard (gulp, big pride swallow) being a man and having to digress to him. It's just very hard to put all of this into practice when I feel the way I do.
  7. Nancy

    Nancy Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Hi and welcome. You will get many suggestions here but first and foremost you need to get him evaluated to find out what is really going on and if there are medications that can help. Remember that his problems are genetic, you need only to look at the father's problems to see that...and that your other children do not carry the same traits. I have much the same situation here with our 16 year old that we adopted at birth and is so far opposite to our 21 year old that it couldn't be more apparent that genes are the biggest factor. Knowing that does make me feel very badly for my daughter. She didn't ask to be born to a woman who had serious issues with subtance abuse. Yet she has to slay those dragons and take responsibility for her own actions.

    You will have to change how you are use to parenting him because being militaristic will only cause him to defy you more. I have a problem with that too, I was raised to obey my parents and do it immediately. I found with my difficult child that she will do it in her own sweet time and the more I demand the more she refuses.

    We've been through a lot with our daughter, more than I hope you ever have to go through. Next Thursday she will be going to juvenile court once again for domestic violence. Two years ago it was unruliness. We have called the police on her numerous times when things have gotten out of control and there may come a time when you have to do that too.

    In the meantime, get whatever help you can for your family. Being a stepparent you are walking a difficult line. ODD is a very difficult disorder to deal with for the whole family. You can treat all the other things around it and you are still left with the defiance. It is in their nature. But there is hope and it will take every bit of patience and love that you have.

    I recently attended a workshop about troubled kids and the first thing we were told to do was to take stock of our lives, make sure that we as parents are doing everything we need to be doing to set a good example. That includes no drinking, swearing, violence, improper behavior, etc. Because our troubled kids will see that and absorb it and make it their own. That is why it was not a good idea to have him go live with his father. He needs the security and stability that your home can provide him so that the more he is surrounded with good the more it becomes a part of him.

  8. trinityroyal

    trinityroyal Well-Known Member

    Hello and Welcome. Glad you found us, as this is a great forum with lots of help and support.

    I second Nancy's recommendation to have your son evaluated thoroughly. I recommend a neuropsychologist evaluation, as it is intensive, and can identify many issues that other forms of testing may not pick up.

    One thing to keep in mind is that ODD and ADD/ADHD are often the catch-all diagnoses. Other conditions can cause our children to be hyperactive and defiant, with anxiety, mood swings and the whole magilla. Since the symptoms look like ADD or ODD, that's what doctors often diagnose.

    Stimulant medications such as Concerta really do help with true ADD. If your stepson doesn't have ADD, then the Concerta might be amping him up and making his behaviour worse.

    What was your difficult child's early development like?
    Any speech delays, or very early, adult-like speech?
    Any issues with eye contact?
    Any lining up of toys, or arranging them in formations?
    Any sensitivity to clothing tags, food textures, lights or sounds?
    These sorts of issues might point to an Autism Spectrum Disorder. Without the right sort of interventions, those can result in the sort of behaviour you're seeing.

    I would also suggest that popping him won't help resolve the discipline issue, and might lead to further troubles down the road.

  9. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Ok, wait, hold on. "I antagonize him because he gets on my nerves." Right off the bat you have admitted and seem to know that you are part of the problem, and it needs to stop. Being older, you need to be the one to stop the cycle. Do NOT antagonize a troubled child; things will only get worse. "I have no intention of breaking up MY family because of him." Um, he's your wife's son. He's YOUR family too. Sorry, he is.
    You married this woman AND her child and he is a part of her. Sorry to break the mood...I DO want to be supportative...but you're talking about him like he's NOT part of t he family, like he's ruined the family and like you dislike him. Whether or not you like it, he's your wife's son and you can't just get rid of him. It's not fair to you? Not fair to HIM either. Doesn't seem like anyone cares enough to help find out what's wrong with him and to work with professionals to help him. He is still young...
    First of all, I would give him a complete brand new evaluation. Something isn't right with him, and he needs help and he's not getting it in either home. I strongly recommend a neuropsychologist examination. This little boy has a father with possible mental health issues that he may have inherited (and probably did) and it is NOT his fault. And you are the adult. If you know you are stubborn and that you expect instant obedience than you can change the way you react to him too. You seem to know that this is not right and that it does not work, yet you say you still do it. "Popping him" is very unacceptable for a few reasons. The most obvious is it doesn't work. The other reasons are because he will learn to do the same and because he's NOT your child. You could get into serious trouble, depending on where you live. I'm not sure what you mean by "popping" but to me I think of pulling off a belt and whacking him or slapping his face. I certainly don't feel it will help the situation. Nor will your getting into "I will win, I am more powerful" matches. I think he needs therapy, but that you do too...probably the entire family, to learn to live with a child who is different.
    This boy is the "odd man out." YOu and wife and kids are all biologically related. He knows, no matter how well you believe you are hiding it, that he's not as important to you as the others, and it hurts him. And it needs fixing. He also knows that he's somehow different, which he can start to think is "bad", and that nobody really wants him. ODD is rarely a stand alone diagnosis. If his father is an alcoholic he is at high risk for a mood disorder, such as childhood bipolar and in my opinion you need to explore the possibility. It sounds like more than ADD to me and ADD medications make kids with mood disorders worse.
    When you signed up for this marriage, you signed up for the child and in my opinion you owe it to him to try just as hard as you would if one of your biological children were in trouble. This child hasn't been evaluated or treated recently--it's about time.
    I'm sorry, but your post made me feel bad for this child. I had a few difficult children who are doing well now, but I"m sure they wouldn't be if they'd have felt "not part of the family."
    I'd do the family therapy at once and get him signed up for a neuropsychologist evaluation. These evaluations are very intensive and can be up to ten hours. Something needs to change or this little guy, who has had a tough life and was born different, may get into drugs or worse. I hope everyone is on board and wants to prevent that from happening. Good luck!
  10. Christy

    Christy New Member

    Welcome to the board!

    You have gotten plenty of advice already but I'll add my two cents. I understand that you are in a difficult situation as step parents often are. Your stepson may well be manipulating the situation but he is in a tough situation as well. He is being shuffled between two families and it seems like his mom has started a new life and there is no room for him. Yes, he is not handling the situation well, but he's a kid. He needs support as well as discipline. You owe it to your wife to put forth 110% effort to make things work. A neurological evaluation, possibly medication, and family counseling are needed to make the situation better.

    I wish you and your family the very best,
  11. Sara PA

    Sara PA New Member

    Adding to what MidwestMom said:

    "My prior military background doesn't help because I'm used to instant willing obedience to orders."
    You need to get over the idea that a child is equal to an adult who chose to enter the military.

    "And I know that it isn't his fault that his brain is wired wrong but he just doesn't get it."
    Do you expect that someone with a malfunctioning brain can control the malfuncting by sheer force of will? Do you expect that someone with a malfuncting pancreas can control the malfuncting by sheer force of will? Or a malfuncting heart? Of course not.

    "My problem is that I antagonize him because he gets on my nerves."
    "He taunts me and calls me retard (he's the one with 3 F's), tells me to shut up when he doesn't get his way."

    You realize, of course, that the two of you are behaving exactly the same?

    "He says all the time that I hate him and asks me to admit it. I won't do that even though my feelings for him are far from love."
    Your feelings about him must be obvious. Based on your writing, I've come to the same conclusion that he has.
  12. Nancy

    Nancy Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Excuse me ladies, I may disagree with how cdmcorp is handling things with his stepson too but it does seem that some posts of late are anything but helpful. I don't know if cdmcorp will come back because he hasn't responded but there isn't any reason to antagonize and ridicule someone who has come here for help.

    Let's all remember that by the time a frazzled parent gets here a lot has gone on, and if they are asking for help then they recognize that what they are doing so far hasn't worked. Change is a process, it doesn't happen overnight. I have said things over the years out of frustration with my difficult child that many people can take the wrong way unless they have lived my life.

    So let's hope that cdmcorp comes back and wants to get some real help in dealing with this situation. We have all felt frustrated at times and we all need someone who will not be judgemental when we are trying to get help.

  13. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I beg to differ too. He is excusing himself. Parents often give wake up calls to parents who come for help here. This man needs to get help for himself as well as his stepson if he wants his family to get better and I don't feel we are helping him by acting like he is behaving all right. Sometimes we ALL need to re-evaluate how we behave toward our kids. I know I've had to sit back and think about it. If you don't like your stepchild, the first thing to do is to get counseling for the entire family (which I suggested) because the child isn't going away. I think that's appropriate help. Also, this child could use another evaluation. It seems to me that nobody wants this child. How is it helpful to any parent to say "We understand" without explaining that HE needs help too? I won't speak on the topic again, but I thought hard before answering this post. This man is admitting the problems (which is very good). He just needs to act on getting help for what he admits are his own problems or the family won't get better. Coming from the perspective of "This kid is bad, he's ruining MY family, I can't change etc." nothing will get better. Nobody is trying to chase him away. If he doesn't respond, maybe that isn't what he wanted to hear, however he asked for our input. He got mine. I think the entire family needs immediate help. He has to accept this child. I agree with Sara.
  14. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Hi cdmcorp. Welcome.
    I know how you feel. I am just resting a moment b4 I go into my son's room and strip it (again ... this happens 2-3 X a yr) of everything except mattress and 1 pr of clothes. (This incl. lightbulbs.)
    I do it quietly and efficiently while he's out of the house so we can't antagonize one another (see how that works, lol! don't mess with-me when I have PMS).
    I suggest you sign up for family counseling (with-o the babies, etc.; you, your stepson and your wife) because you need a mediator. Bring a notebook. You will get lots of good ideas from a good family therapist and you will need to restrain your enthusiasm and only focus on one behavior at a time. For example, just start with his mouthing off. Ea time he mouths off, quietly place an X or something on a chart and if he's got, say, 6 X's, he loses his cell phone privileges for the rest of the day.
    It has to start out small so he doesn't blow up. Bit by bit you take back control.
    We've all been through it. We are all still going through it.
    Also, once he starts to behave (and he will, because he's only 11 and feels very unloved, and security is what he needs right now--just look at how his family has been torn apart) then he'll backslide, and you merely go back to square one and do the steps all over again.
    Consistency is the theme. I don't sense any consistency in your note (which was very thorough and helpful, by the way). If you're military, then you know how good it feels when you've got all your ducks in a row and you know what to expect every day. Come up with-your own plan.

    Also, read The Explosive Child by Ross Greene. It will really help you understand and re-categorize. When you mentioned giving up power to get it, that book explains how. It's a re-structuring of rules and perceptions. It does NOT mean giving up control. Seriously. You will get it back.

    Take care.
  15. Steely

    Steely Active Member

    All I can say is that I feel horrible for your son. He is lonely, desperate, and needs a male role model that loves him. This child needs love as much as one needs water to live. I hope that you and bio dad will step back for a moment, and recognize that this child needs one of you to be the strong loving father, the one who can foster change in a nurturing environment. If neither one of you can provide that - then perhaps looking for a group home is the best solution.

    My heart goes out to all young boys that are emotionally disturbed who have no where to turn for help. Their only choice is to act out - because they are trying to tell us they need help. We are the only ones that can give it them.

    Please go hug your son, step or not, it does not matter, and tell him he is a good kid and you are going to get him the help he needs. Tell him, that somehow, you are gonna make this better. He is just a child.
  16. tiredmommy

    tiredmommy Site Moderator

    I'd like to remind our experienced members that this parent has come here to seek advice, he is aware of his mistakes and is trying to do his best for his family. Just like each and every one of us are. We've all made mistakes and tried things that didn't work with our kids, often out of desperation. Please treat him with the same dignity and respect you expect for yourself here.