New Member
Well I'm a newbie to this site, but definately not a stranger to the demanding world of raising a CD child.
I was reading some of the forums on this site and I'm glad I did. For three years I have felt like I was all alone in my disfunctional world.
I have been with my stepson since he was 2 1/2 months old and I love him with all of my heart, but sometimes I wonder how much more I can take. He is only 10 and he has already been on the verge of being expelled from school for stealing constantly (it took extreme begging on my part to keep him in school), he has shoplifted, has had misappropriate interaction with little girls, he has started major family feuds between myself, my husband, and my extended family by telling lies, he whines constantly, defies everything that's said to him, he has such anger that he constantly yells, screams, and jumps in my face, he has disrupted our nieghbors lives by peeing in their yard and throwing our trash into their yards, he constantly blames others for his actions and has no guilt when he does something wrong, he manipulates everyone who stands in his way of getting what he wants. What's worse is he can hide this behavior from the family members that only see him for short periods of time and not on a regular basis, so of course there is great tension in the family because they don't understand why we do what we do. Although I have always been the one there to take care of him and do what is best for him I am constantly judged because "I'm stepmom." Instead of seeing that my son has a problem, my husband's family would rather place blame on me and my son senses that and uses it to get as much "poor me time" as possible.
We have done and are doing therapy, incentive charts, rewards, praise, one on one attention, nothing seems to help. When he is rewarded or earns a "prize" all he does is complain about what he didn't get or didn't get to do. Praising him causes severe spike in the negative behavior.
We have two other children in the home and they are started to act out to the constant struggle going on in the home. It's really starting to scare me and for as much as I love my oldest son I'm starting to wonder if I am too weak to help him. I really have no idea where to go from here. Is it time to walk away. Everytime I start to be hopeful about my family's chance of survival, something happens to remind me how deeply in trouble we truly are.

Hound dog

Nana's are Beautiful
Welcome to the board. :grin:

Weekends can be slow, but others will be along to post.

Does your stepson have a current diagnosis? Does he take medications? If he doesn't have a current diagnosis, I'd say it's time to go after one. I'd also get an IEP in place with the school

Maybe it's just me, but if you've been caring for this child since he was 2 1/2 mos old..... sort of rules out the "step" part. lol

Being a step parent can certainly make the job alot harder at times. I always hated the way people tended to "assume". ugh



New Member
First of all...welcome to a very supportive group of people who do know what you're going through.

It would help if you completed a signature -- to let us know ages, diagnosis, medications, etc. so that we can offer suggestions that would be helpful.

You mentioned therapy...is it individual therapy for your son, or family therapy for all of you? If your younger children are acting out, you may need some guidance in helping them learn to interact with their older brother.

I cannot tell you how many times I heard my mother tell me that it wasn't what I said to my difficult child....but it was my "tone", and remember, she's had a tough start in life... At my wit's end one day, I asked my mom if she thought her dad was a fair and good man. She said yes. I asked her if she thought for ONE MINUTE he'd allow any kid -- even a kid with a tough start in life, to run his household. She had to say no. I told her my kid wasn't running my household either.

You'll need some help, and a united front. I hope your husband is supportive of you in this area. It is a tough road, but not so lonely with us to help you though the bad days.

Sending a hug your way.


New Member
I'm also a "stepmom" although we are now headed down the path of adoption of all of my difficult children (gifts from God). Their biomoms rights were terminated in April. She did not appeal (that we can tell) and so now I can move to adopt them. One thing that I think helps on my end as far as stepmom is that my husband always tells my kids how much I do for them. He is constantly reminding them how grateful they should be because I cook dinner, I plan summer playtime, I take them to the movies, I do this and that, and it can be as simple as "Your mom takes you to school or makes sure you have clean clothes" and so on. He did this for a few years before my difficult children finally started saying "thank you" for the little things. Now, when I make breakfast, or cook dinner, it starts with one of the kids and then it goes around the table of "thanks mom for dinner".

We also implemented chore day, where each kid had a chore they had to do. With difficult children we quickly discovered they weren't capable of doing chores without very specific instructions. They don't see the trash full or the dust on the tv, things like that. So we typed up step by step instructions and they did their chores. Each month we would switch chores and we would do these chores once a week, our day is Thursday. Now that my youngest difficult child is 7, which is when my middle two sons started doing chores, he has been added to the group. We have kitchen duty, cleaning the playroom, cleaning the bathrooms and mopping the floors. Now we've added cleaning the living room or sorting laundry to the bunch. Whichever needs the most help. I have many friends who have their kids do chores daily, but for difficult children that is just way too much. Since we only do them once a week and everyone has to do a chore at the same time, I don't get much arguing. I actually get more pouting from my PCs (perfect children) *rolling my eyes* then I do from my difficult children typically.

I put *rolling my eyes* in so that you're sure to understand that I don't think I have PCs, but thats how we tell the difference on the board. PCs are kids who don't have conduct disorders, difficult children are kids who do.

It took my inlaws almost 3 years to realize I wasn't the wicked step mom. That I have rules and structure specifically for my difficult children because they thrive on it. All kids do, but my PCs can handle life either way. My difficult children wouldn't know what to do without schedules and they definately hold true to the "idol hands" theory. So this summer I created a very strict schedule, every 30 minutes each child had something different to do. It was Playstation Time, Reading Time, Parent Time (one on one time with me or daddy if he was home), Computer Time, TV Time, Journal Time, Outside Time and so on. We also had 2 1/2 hours of scheduled family time during the day and 30 minutes at night, so Daddy could take part after work. During the 2 1/2 hours we would go to the park, the $1 movies or just stay at home and play card games or board games, or rent a movie from Blockbuster.

The schedule seemed like such a pain to do, but in all honesty, it has saved my sanity this summer. Sure, we had bad days too. But for the most part, the kids were happy getting time alone with me each day, family time was their absolute favorite and they loved that each of them got to spend time doing fun things and they weren't being bothered by their siblings because their siblings were busy doing their own thing.

We will continue on this schedule for weekends when school starts and I'll need to create a new one for school days.

Structure saved our household. My first year of marriage with 6 kids nearly destroyed our marriage. It was me taking control of everything and making out menus that were posted on the fridge (made grocery shopping a breeze once I created a spreadsheet in excel with isle #s and prices) now I know about how much I'll spend, I can seperate the list into things my husband gets (heavy stuff) and things I get and print 1 sheet for him and 1 for me. We have to shop together, feeding 9 means 2 full grocery carts. I posted the menu and the kids read it every day to see whats for dinner that night. Helps remind us to take something out to thaw too. Then I started with a schedule for video games and computer time to limit how much they play and whos turn it is. Stopped the bickering big time! Then this summer with this most recent schedule where in a household with 6 kids, they get 45 minutes of one on one time with their mom or dad each day, I just can't say enough good things about it. If its something you're interested in, I can send you our schedule and you can modify it to fit your house and your kids.

Okay, now that I've typed a book! I hope things start getting better! Make sure you and your husband are eachothers cheerleaders. In a house with steps you have to constantly remind them how wonderful you both really are and how much you do for them on a daily basis especially if its the small stuff. Laundry, cleaning, grocery shopping, taxi and so on. Those are small things to the kids that take a big amount of our time, we should be appreciated for it!

Welcome to the board!


All is familiar. No charts, praise, rewards ever worked with my son. What DID/DOES work is removing things. No computer, no phone, no game system, no ipod..etc. He must then earn them back. it is not a one day removal or a time limit removal. He only gets them back when he earns it with good respectable behavior.

At one point I had a notebook and wrote down everything that went on in a day. Good or bad. That was for me. lol. Because I was so frustrated and caught up in the power struggle that I would forget all the things that happened. Especially the good. Because at the point when he has the life sucked out of me it is hard to remember the good. So..writing it down helped a lot.

counseling didn't work. He wouldn't talk. He does take the initiative to seek out the social worker at school. he has a great relationship with her.

Does your son have an IEP? Anyone he can seek out when he is frustrated? As adults we can find a way to release our frustrations, as a child you are limited. So, anyone that he can trust would do him really good. The counselor at the elementary school was his guardian angel. He is going into his last year of middle school, and still keeps in contact with the counselor from elementary school. We were told by her, and by the current social worker at school that they will not tell us what he talks about unless it is a danger to him or someone else. I never asked. He knows what he talks about is confidential and he opens up completely.

We also have in place a plan so if he ever ends up in a situation, or a place that is not safe, or there are things going on (party, drug use, drinking) he has someone to call. Not us. They will come get him any time, day, night. They will not tell us immediately. Giving him the chance to do so. Giving him a safe place. Have not had to use it, but glad we have that plan.

Hope things begin to ease up.

Wiped Out

Well-Known Member
Staff member
Welcome! You have found a great place to be and are not alone. As others have said it would be helpful to know any diagnosis from a doctor. Has he had an evaluation done by a neuro-psychologist?

I'm sorry your difficult child is struggling so much. Are you able to get any respite? It's important to take care of you through all of this. Hugs.


Well-Known Member
You may want to do a signature, like I did below.
Has this child ever had a full scale evaluation by a neuropsychologist? Are there any psychiatric, neurological or substance abuse issues on either side of his family tree? He could have a genetically passed along disorder (bipolar/high functioning autism) that has NOTHING to do with your parenting. Since you've had him since two and a half months, in my opinion that's not the problem. He may bring it up for drama, but I'd have him completely evaluated to check him out for disorders. He is likely as miserable or even more miserable than he makes everyone else, although it is probably hard to see that...As for critical relatives, I'd put them on "disregard." THey have no idea what you're going through and none of them are professionals. If necessary, I'd limit contact with those who think they wrote the book on raising difficult children and want to hang the blame on you. Does husband defend you? He should. (((Hugs))) Welcome!


New Member
Thanks to everyone for your supportive words. It is such a relief to finally talk to people who feel my pain.
We have been in therapy for a long time, but the first few years (when my son was likely exhibiting ODD symptoms) were really a joke. The counselor never really made difficult child talk, and being as intelligent as he is, difficult child quickly learned how to tell the counselor what he wanted to hear. We are currently in family and difficult child individual therapy. We drive over 100 miles once a week to attend the sessions, however the counselor's methods don't seem to be consist and she doesn't seem to follow up from previous sessions. We went through the parent management training in family therapy and it really helped...with our two pcs..our difficult child never responded to the changes. I was so stressed out that I had lost patience with all of my kids, my difficult child was requiring so much of my time and effort that the other two weren't allowed to act up, because I had no patience left for even the smallest of actions. PMT gave me the chance to step back and see the mistakes I was making as a stressed out mom. I am grateful for that. I only wish difficult child would have a positive response to the changes. difficult child wants to control our house and I just can't see myself allowing that. I try to get him to understand that he does control a lot in the house, by making certain choices he controls how quickly he gets to play after school, what rewards he earns, and how his day goes. Needless to say this isn't enough he wants more.
We to have been through the steps of the legal system. At first we didn't have custody of difficult child, but I had him 5-6 days a week, at the age of three we got custody of him (with biomom having visits when she could fit him into her busy schedule), and in Jan of 2006 we terminate biomom's rights (however maternal grandmom was awarded monthly visits..we have had to recently suspend those because of her constant violation of the court's order). I have always cherished the thought of adopting difficult child, but now that it is possible, all of the problems we have been through and are going through have me too scared to go through with it. I know it makes me a coward, but I'm terrified. It's not just the behavior that has me scared, it's all of the family members that judge me, and have the nerve to think they could take him in and everything would just be peachy. If they only had the chance to live a day in my life, they would go running in the opposite direction. I wish I could say my husband was supportive and stood up for our situation consistently, but I can't. He has choosen the path of least resisitance...meaning he leaves me to handle all of the situations..whether it is dealing with the difficult child's school, the extended family, or interacting with the difficult child.
We have also tried the removal of items. difficult child would lose items and then we would explain what needed to be done to earn them back. Basically it boiled down to speak to us with respect and don't whine everytime you're asked to do something. difficult child made zero effort to earn back his things. In fact in one situation he had his paternal grandmother take him shopping to buy one of the items that he had lost...his words to us "well I didn't want to have to earn it back."
I do get a little time away from the house and from "life." I get to go to the gym for an hour about 3 times a week and every other month or so I go to Bingo for a few hours.
As for difficult child being miserable...I agree. Even with all of the stress and tension created by his behavior I feel so bad for him. He doen't have any friends. While our younger son is constantly going to a friend's or having friends over, difficult child has nobody to hang out with and bond with. I truly feel bad and have done many things to help him interact with his peers and make friends, but nothing works. It seems his "everyone always and I never attitude" drives the kids away.

Thanks for listening!!!


My difficult child has the "everyone always and I never" attitude too.

Hard to keep friends with that. But I honestly think he truely believes it. I KNOW he believes it.


Well-Known Member
Welcome. Does your difficult child have an IEP at school or not? With Individual Education Planning there are specific supports put in
writing that the school system HAS to adhere to. It often includes some therapy, anger management etc. etc. Both the Mom
and Dad have to participate in identifying the problems with the
help of test results. The school system will pay for a complete
neuro-psychological testing session which will conclude with the
diagnosis AND the suggestions for at home and at school.

It sounds as though you are not getting any value out of the
stressful and lengthly trips to therapy. Are there any childrens
hospital facilities closer to your home? in my humble opinion you need to get
your son signed up for further testing and supports with a fully
certified child psychiatrist also. If you are trying to work with under specialized professionals you are shooting yourself in
the foot. Ten years old is a highly critical age which will lead
to teen years with the same behaviors unless you can get more help now.

For his future, your future and the protection of your younger
children I urge you to fall back and regroup. Reaching out to
this group is a HUGE step in the right direction. We are a very
diverse group and sometimes the advise is not consistent but there are no "bad guys" among the group. Welcome. DDD


New Member
I'm sorry to hear your husband (dear/dumb husband depending on the day/mood) isn't as supportive as you need him to be. When my husband and I first married, he was a total marshmellow. He had only one rule (to this day I still think its rediculous that this was his only rule) and his rule was that you call adults by Mr. or Mrs./Ms. (insert last name here). Please don't misunderstand me, I think respect is the # 1 thing to expect out of all my kids. What I thought was rediculous is that he was okay with his kids hitting him, screaming at him, they had no table manners, they never said please or thank you to anyone, they were disrespectful in every other way. I never understood how this one rule was so important, but all the others weren't.

Something we started, because of course in the first year of marriage it was obvious I was the mean ogar and Daddy was the soft marshmellow, is that I didn't want to be the bad guy all the time, so I would tell the kids to "Ask Daddy." husband and I had made arrangements prior to this, that if I said this, that he was to say "No." everytime. Sometimes husband's don't know what to do, but this simple arrangement made it easy because he knew the expected answer, the kids were clueless and now I wasn't the bad guy. Now, we've been married for a little more than 4 years and the kids have figured this out, but along the way husband figured out what I would say no to and has begun to handle things himself. In fact, the kids now think I'm the nice parent and Daddy is the ogar. With all the daily stress I deal with, I'm okay that it has worked out that way and husband is too. Daddy needs to take some of this away from me and by being the stricter of the two of us now, it makes my daily life more pleasant. My kids (with the exception of my youngest difficult child) all like spending time with me now.

I can't tell you how important it is that your husband start showing you support. I don't think I'd be prepared to adopt my difficult children if my husband wasn't supportive of me.

I'm glad you found the board! This is a great place for support!


Active Member

I have been away for awhile but your thread caught my eye and I did want to respond. I agree with DDD in her advice and I want to share a bit of my story also.

I raised my stepson since he was 2. He had no contact with his bio-mom until March of this year (her choice). I left a career to raise my husbands 2 sons when we got custody and while things were very tough at times I probably would do it again.

The oldest left us at 14 and returned to his mom but the youngest (difficult child) remained with us.

I would encourage you, very strongly, to get your difficult child solidly diagnosis'd, if possible, and keep on until you find a dr. that you feel comfortable and confident in.

We didn't start seeking help for our "problems" with difficult child until he was in his teens and at that point time was running out quickly.

We have been through some very rough times and they are not over yet but I wouldn't trade him for the world. He is my heart. Has been since he was a little guy and being a stepmom sets you up for some strong judgements from different people just because of the "step" part. BUT..... it is the love you feel for this child, your desire to help him and guide him and find him the help he needs to live a happy, full, and productive life that IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING TO REMEMBER. :smile: If that is your goal, which I believe it is, than what others think is just so much garbage. Listen to what your heart is telling you sweetie...not what others are saying.

As far as your husband (dear husband) is involved. It is imperative that you both be on the same page when it comes to your difficult child. I couldn't have done it without the support of my husband. Even if we didn't agree, we disagreed outside of his earshot. Presenting a united front, and a 50/50 stand is so important. Not only for your difficult child but equally important for your sanity.

Because I was home and we homeschooled our difficult child I handled 90% of the discipline, etc.... but difficult child knew that his dad was equally involved in the decisions concerning him.

I know you love your little guy, I can read it in your words and wanting to give up at times is such a natural instinct...to stop the pain...but you are invested now, adoption or no adoption..your heart is in it. :smile:

Keep posting, the people here saved my sanity so many times, and seek help...keep seeking it..put on your Warrior Mom Armor :warrior: and keep on fighting.

One other thing...in this book I have written...take care of yourself...do nice things just for you...bubble baths with lit candles...etc...dealing with a difficult child can wear you to your very core and without you who does he have in there fighting for him?

Hope I haven't stepped out of line in anything I have said but I have been there done that for many years and I can't help believing that someday our difficult children will remember who was there in their corner, with the boxing gloves on....fighting with/for them...wanting the best that life has to offer for them.

Sending gentle, understanding hugs.... :smile:
oh boy do I relate. I WAS a step mom. I was here all day everyday looking for sanity. My step son had same problems before me and after me.... but it was all my fault according to his family and the school..because he had different rules than the ones my "natural" children had...due to HIS behaviors.

I could write you a book. We moms are driven to be good moms..want to feel good...and anyone who makes us feel bad is a direct hit.
I deveoloped a diagnosis of Post Traumatic Strss Disorder at the hands of my former difficult child/his family/the school. I took it all a bit to personally i suppose...and then...I divorced the love of my life to remove the difficult child from mine and my childrens misery, and to provide us with safety. I felt bad to "abandon" the child...and I still do..to an extent...BUT sheesh...I sleep at night most nights now.

Someone here gave me some advice that HELPED me smile at bedtime once. It didnt always work but when it did...oh my gosh.

SMILE AND BE BIZARRE when they are off on their trip to make you nuts.
*while gardening with child beside you..grab their hand and put it in the dirt...cover with dirt and tell them to stay still...get water..water the lump and do a dance acting really goofy...
while this does nothing to help the child...you will laugh your butt off that night in bed...lol

seriously. get help. family thinks they can do better...while i know you dont want your child there as they probably will allow him to do things you wont.... DO IT. let them have him. YOU are important and YOU need a break. When you pick him/her up ..and family complains about things say "well good he was normal for you"...or if they say they had no problem then make arrangements for the next visit then.
PLEASE TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF. Find time for your bio and/or easy child children away from the DRAMA around the difficult child. My kids resented the time my difficult child took..and the fact I was a b*tch most the time with ruined moods by difficult child. Family outting were cancelled because difficult child didnt deserve to go...or he was taken and I had to sit with him while the others had fun....and my former husband...made me feel like a single mother too... I did all.


New Member
I know I've said it once, but I have to say it again...Thank you everyone for your advice, support, and for sharing your own stories with me. While it saddens me to know all of you are going through tough times, it makes me feel a lot better knowing so many people DO understand what I'm going through.

As for an IEP...we had one set up last year..it didn't do much except excuse his absences for counseling and document that we also had him seeing the school counselor. Our entire school district is general is probably one of the worst in the state as far as assisting "special" needs kids. We are going to see how the year goes and if need be will go above our principles head to get something done...I can't go through another year of school induced torture..that I know. I'm going to start looking for a facility or dr. that can do a thorough evaluation of my difficult child, because I do feel the current counselor is overlooking a lot of things. I have to check with our Ins and see how to go about things like that....gotta love ins companies.

Has anyone dealt with dr's in NM????

CookieMomster...I have to say it's almost like you're telling my life story. The extended family's interference & judgement, the time consumption, the destroyed vacations & family time, and the fear of violence towards other family members has me on the verge of losing my husband and a son. Two people I love very much. I often wonder if I'll let the guilt of "abandoning" my difficult child and my love convince me to stay too long and then something horrible will happen, and on the other hand I feel like I'll let my fear and frustration take me and my biochildren away from a family that could have survived. It's like a huge circle, just back and forth, with no apparent ending!!!

Thanks again to everyone!!!


I started out as a step-mom to my two difficult children. I have since adopted the youngest (and the one that has done the most damage). That was a hard decision. I made it and believe me there are days I ask myself what I was thinking.

husband when we first got together was an ostrich. My kids have no problems is what I was told. I sat back and asked myself how he could be so blind. Not just one or two people had warned me about these kids but everyone I encountered that knew them warned me (except family). It took awhile to get husband on board.
Sometimes almost to the point of drawing him a picture. He still doesn't always get it and I undersand now that he just doesn't look at things the same way I do. He is on board when it comes to most things. It took a lot of conversations.

I am a control freak and that did not help. One phrase that I had to learn was Let go of the things you can't control. VERY hard to do. Make sure you get through to husband. Step back when you can.

By all means do not let your difficult child have control but remember you can only do so much.

I only say what happened and happens in my world. My opinion.

Beth..I wish I were as strong as you. There are times I suffer from the guilt...I tried for three years and I just had to get some relief. I date my ex husband now and see my step difficult child 2 or 3 times a month.... and I know I made the right decision. The husband still doesnt "see" things. He waits for the "mistakes" then punishes....he is reactive NOT PROACTIVE. But husband has no one to worry about except hiself ...I have two other children to worry for.... enough of that.

My easy child daughter always had some problems..which have gotten worse...partly due to the "life" we had with difficult child....and other things....I am thankful that step difficult child isn't a daily worry so I can concentrate on my daughter (and my son who isnt exactly mentally healthy either).

I just wanted to point out to you that not all people handle things the same way. I dont know if I did the right thing...I prayed hard about it...for years... and when MY doctor said..."you aren't going to make it if you dont start sleeping and taking care of yourself"... my answer was all too obvious. I had ABSOLUTELY no support for difficult child..NONE. That is why I am telling you...if you can get some "support" from family/friends...TAKE IT. dont worry about how they will screw him up with free rein while you are not there...dont make them try to see things you see...(they will in time)....let them blame you for everything .....they are going to do that regardless- PLEASE...PLEASE..PLEASE.... protect your own mental and physical health and GET A BREAK. Warrior moms are not invincible. (writing that to you..is therapy to me...reminds me...that I also need breaks...and i get them occassionally when the sperm donor comes to take my easy child/difficult child daughter..lol).

The moms/dads here helped me SO MUCH back then..that is why I am back now. this is all about trial and error or success.

If you get to heaven before me...will you please talk to God..and ask him to include owners manuals on the newer models so future parents dont have all this? lol. (oh and for him to put zippers on the newer models for easy surgeries).

(sending you a pina colada, beautiful white beaches with blue ocean...and lots of eye candy to look at)