Step parent here to vent

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by batzy1, Jun 19, 2012.

  1. batzy1

    batzy1 New Member

    Hello everyone,
    I have tried to find a support group for step parents of child with ADHD and additional behavior disorders and was unsuccessful. If anyone out there knows of any, I would love the information. I am choosing to vent on here because when I talk to my friends about what I'm dealing with, they just don't get it. Here is my situation: I have a 8 year old stepson who has been diagnosed with ADHD, anxiety disorder, and disruptive behavior disorder. He has been a difficult child since about age 5, or at least that is when the schools made his mother get him tested because of his out of control behavior at school. He is on medication for ADHD and now the doctors have recommended more medication to deal with the other issues on top of the ADHD medication. My husband and I have a son together that just turn 2 and is the most loving, easy child to parent, the best way to describe it is he parents himself. My husband gets his other son for 9 weeks during the summer, as soon as his school ends until it begins again. My husband also makes the effort to drive 9 hours to see him for 3 to 4 day weekends every other month. His son is also near where my husbands parents live so he is able to stay there and see his family. I do not go on these trips for several reasons, but the biggest reason is I can't handle being around his son. I know it sounds horrible but here are a few, and i mean a few of the reasons why because if i vented about everything, it would take hours to write.

    The first time myself and the baby went to my husbands family, the baby was only 8 months, of course I expected his other son to be jealous, but i soon realized it was more than that. My stepson who was 6 at the time, pointed a dart gun at my son and said "time to kill the baby", luckily my husband just walked in the room and overheard this. Anytime my husband stepped out of sight, my stepson knew it was his chance to act up. When we got him last summer for the first time, it was a nightmare, my summers have turned into a nightmare that I just try and survive. We have 4 little dogs, and anytime my husband wasn't looking he would try and hurt them by kicking or hitting them with things, my husband thought i was exaggerated until one finally yelped, then he wasn't allowed to touch the dogs. He asked what would happen if he choked one of the dogs. He asked me "what if Mason (my son) killed you". He went after one of the dogs with a pair of scissors while my husband was in the bathroom. He gets naked for no reason at inapproriate times and in front of people we have visiting our house. He constantly is in trouble for doing what he knows isn't allowed like climbing over furniture, kicking and throwing things in the house. I have to put any thing that is irrepaceble or important and lock it in one room while he is here. I feel horrible that I have to expose our other son to him and all his issues. His has developed new behavior problems since he was here last where he is compelled to lick things and then he thinks he's going to die. He has tried to punch his mom in the face, and just a month ago got in trouble at school for grabbing other kids in the privates. He also broke a 1600 dollar flat screen tv at his moms when he got mad and threw a remote control at the screen. My husband and I went to counseling to get through last summer and I continued on my own. My husband thought everything would be perfect last summer and had a hard time when he realized I couldn't stand to be around his son. As soon as the baby went to sleep, I would take all the dogs and retreat to the upstairs so I could just enjoy the calm. This boy scares me, I hide matches from him for I think he would try and burn the house down. I'm also terrified of him being left alone for a second with our other son because I know he would do something to him. I've told my husband all this and he accepts it because over the past year he has started to finally come out of denial about what is going on with his other son. He even admits it's hard for him to accept, i try and get him to read and educate himself on what is going on with him and how to help him, but he is so much in denial that he just chooses not to deal with it when he's not with us. I don't ever let my husband take our son home with him because i'm afraid he will leave him alone with my stepson because he doesn't see what a danger he is. My hands are tied on helping this child because I'm not his parent and I can't make my husband admit what is going on and we definitely have no control over how his mom is handling him. Which she is a huge part of the problem too, she is very lazy, hasn't worked in over a year, lives on welfare and child support, had a guy move in to help pay the bills. She thinks the medication and therapy is going to fix him and that she doesn't need to change her parenting of him even though the phd's recommend her learning different behavior modification techniques. So it's very frustrating for me, some days I want to throw in the hat and just take my son and leave because I am forced to deal with this boy and I can see him getting worse and worse. I know I can't predict the future but if his parents don't get on board with what the professionals are telling them, this boy is going to be more dangerous than he already is and I'm going to have to protect my own even if it means ending my marriage. Which is a sad thought, I love my husband dearly, but I won't sacrifice the safety and well being of my son.

    I know this is difficult for my husband and I do sympathize with him, but I try and get my husband to see my side and I think he is finally grasping that his son isn't my blood and I will not sacrifice the well being of our son for his. This is probably the biggest problem because I think my husband expected me to deal with his son as he does, but he didn't factor in that he has unconditional love for him and i do not. I get all sorts of advice from people that have no idea what it's like to be around a child with these behavior issues and sometimes they make me feel like i'm not trying. What I learned through my counseling is that I can only control my piece, i can tell my husband what I think and feel, my suggestions on how to make our summers work better and how I react to our step son. For the most part I do not let him get to me now as he pokes and prods me, but there are the times when I just have to be away from my step son and my husband has a hard time understanding that. My counseling really help me realized I can't help this kid because he is not my kid, I can't parent him because I'm not his parent, some may take that as i'm not trying, but really how can you force someone to parent their child the way you see needs done? You can't, and I have come to accept that fact. So all I can do is control myself and my portion of this. Does anyone out there understand what I'm going through?
  2. SuZir

    SuZir Well-Known Member

    Hello and welcome!

    I'm not a step parent (my difficult child is my very own first born) and luckily my children have not had as severe behavioural problems you describe. So I mostly just want to say my welcome. There are several other members here, who have children (biological, adopted or step) who have experience of same kind of behavioural issues you are dealing with. I'm sure they will soon chime in.

    I would still like to ask few clarifying questions. When your step son comes to visit you for summer, who is the one taking care of him mainly? Do you or your husband or both work during the time? Did I understand correctly that you step son tends to behave better when your husband is there? Is there any way you could minimize the time you are alone with step son (with for example day-care, day camp or something like that)?
  3. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    Welcome to our little corner.

    I know how you feel. It is HORRIBLE to be afraid of a child - whether yours or not. I have a stepdaughter with behavioral issues, and while I'm not nearly as frightened of her as I used to be, I am fully aware of what she could do.

    It's very difficult when the bio parent has their head in the sand and their ex seems to be useless or worse, abusive.

    From what you've written, you're terrified, and I don't blame you. However... The very most important thing is the safety of the 2-y/o - and yourself.

    Others with more information will be along... I'm sneaking a bit of time from my workday right now, LOL! :hugs:
  4. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Hi. in my opinion you are dealing with a hello lot more than ADHD and "behavior problems." We adopted a very disturbed and frightening 11 year old child once and he had three symptoms that we soon learned were called The McDonald Triad for children who can turn into psychopaths as adults: 1/peeing and pooping inappropriately 2/cruelty to animals and 3/fascination with fire.

    McDonald Triad link:

    You have a dangerous child on your hands. It is not a parenting issue anymore...he probably had a very chaotic early upbringing and it caused him to be this way, but that sad fact in no way makes him safe to be around your baby or your pets. This is a child in my opinion and experience who needs an Residential Treatment Center (RTC) to get 24/7 treatment. He also needs to be watched all the time and you can't do that. If you go to the bathroom, he could burn down your house. I am taking a wild guess that he has some attachment disorder issues. Did he have many caregivers or bounce back and forth from mom/dad/grandma or spend time in a hospital or foster care as a baby and toddler?

    When I hear about children like this, I am very sorry for them, but since I also lived with one, I also try to warn the parent that this is not going to get better quick and that counseling is not enough and that you can not guess what this child will do the minute he is out of your sight for a minute. You are lucky he didn't choke your dog to death. Our child choked two dogs to death. The first time we didn't know it was him (he was clever). The second time, he was the only one home, except for me and I didn't do it. He also sexually abused my younger kids (another reason to be careful of your baby).

    I don't have any answers because you are not the custodial parent, but I'd make darn sure this child was NEVER alone with either the baby or the little dogs. If you have cats, them either. Of course, like our kid, he could go around trying to kill dogs of neighbors, but I don't know if he is doing that yet. We didn't know how bad things were until this child was out of our house for good. We called CPS and told them to take him. Then it all came out. The other kids had been terrified of him so we hadn't realized the extreme things he had done besides killing the dogs.

    My advice, from one who has been there, is that if hub insists on bringing this child to your house for the summer, find somewhere else to stay for the summer and let him deal with it. Your baby and your pets do not need this and you can't save him. His behaviors are too severe for any one person to save him at this time. Talk to hub about residential treatment for him. in my opinion that will keep the boy safe, get him the level of treatment he needs, and keep the people who care about him (and who have to be around him) safe too.

    Huggs!!! Keep us posted!
  5. Allan-Matlem

    Allan-Matlem Active Member


    I agree that the 9 weeks stay is out. At most , maybe if your husband got a live-in teenager buddy-older brother etc to stay with you people or stay with your husband , the siuation might be less challenging. You have to be supportive of your husband and his child , but up to a point. I hope you are strong enough to set the limit together with him

  6. batzy1

    batzy1 New Member

    Hello SuZir,
    Thanks for the welcome. I will try to answer your questions best I can. Last summer was the first time for us to have him so it was a learning experience for both me and my husband. We both work and during the day our son is in daycare and his son is in youth center camp. Last year when we had him, my husband mainly took care of him and I managed our son who was only 13 to 14 months old. I ended up doing a lot of house work too, pretty much everything but taking care of my stepson fell onto me because he was that much work that is all my husband could devote his time too, and my husband was stressed and exhausted. Yes he does behave better in regards to the fact that he's smart enough to know not to let his dad see that he enjoys trying to hurt the dogs or that he intentionally says scary things to freak me out. He is very smart, but luckily his dad has caught him enough that he believes what I tell him. There was one point last year where my husband had to run to the store and he didn't take his son, when my husband came back he started crying as soon as him came in the door and said I had done all this horrible stuff to him and that I said I wanted him to leave, none of which i did and luckily my husband believed me and punished his son for lying. But yes, one of the rules for this summer I told my husband is where ever his son is, then he needs to be too, that he is not to be alone with me, the dogs, or our son. I've done a lot of reading, cause even though my husband may not want to, I try and learn everything I can to help us this summer. He will be here this coming Saturday. I've also told my husband the discipline needs to come from him and it needs to be clear and consistent. He is supposed to talk to him before he brings him back. This is all from advice I've found on line, I give him the information and the tips, whether or not he follows through, I can't control.
  7. batzy1

    batzy1 New Member

    Thanks so much, it helps to know someone understands this and you seem to know exactly what I'm saying. It's so hard to talk to people when they don't understand how terrifying a child could be.
  8. batzy1

    batzy1 New Member

    hello Midwest Mom,
    I'm so glad I posted on this support site, I had read that it is helpful, and it definitely is. I'm so glad to hear people out there do know what I'm going thru and realize how threatening this boy is because neither of his parents do. Sometimes I start to think i'm overreacting and my husband makes me feel like a bad person cause I can't accept his son. But then i replay some of the really horrible stuff he's said or done and my guard is back up. I know I may have to make the tough decision and leave or tell my husband he is not allowed in the house ever again and I'm prepared to do that. I am allowing him here again this summer because I love my husband and I don't want to give up on us until I know I have to. I'm prepared to call the cops on his son this year if he does anything threatening like assault as he did on his mom.
  9. Liahona

    Liahona Guest

    Hi, I don't have the step-parent issue (my husband does though) its my son that is dangerous to the other kids and animals. difficult child 1 also tried to kill his siblings and has killed birds. When I couldn't keep the other kids safe from him he had to go to an Residential Treatment Center (RTC) for a year. That really helped him. He isn't better by a long shot and I still keep a close watch on him. Even if you had unconditional love for him you would still have to keep your other son safe. I love my son, and he still had to leave the house for the safety of the other kids. I love my other kids too. And the best thing for my son was to have an environment he could learn how to get along with others better.

    Some of the things I do to keep everyone safe are: have an alarm on his bedroom door and on the other kid's doors. The alarm on difficult child 1's door is on the outside so he can't turn it off after we shut the door. The alarms on the other kids doors are on the inside so he would have to open the door (setting off the alarm) to turn it off. We have all the alarms because I can sleep through his bedroom alarm since its downstairs and everyone else is upstairs. difficult child 1 used to wander the house at night.

    He has his own bedroom that is also his safe spot for when he upset.

    I have the phone and keys in my pocket at all times. difficult child 1 has locked me out of the house before (while he and the other kids were inside). The phone is to call for help if you need it.

    Keep a journal of what he does. This will help if you do need to call for help or if he lies to someone and they call cps on you. Sounds like he is good at manipulating and as soon as the cops show up he will turn on the charm. They may not believe you. Others have video taped behavior but I never could set up the camera and keep it set up.

    I set up baby gates so when difficult child 1 was in time out (in his room) the other kids couldn't get anywhere near the door. It was like a no-mans land. If they got near the door he would open it and do something to them (at worst) or the audience would just escalate his rage (at best).

    I had to put difficult child 1 in his room with the alarm on to go to the bathroom. Then I hurried as fast as I could. Sometimes I'd take the other kids with me or set up the baby gate so they were stuck in a safe spot.

    Never, ever leave them alone together. I couldn't even turn my back on them together. difficult child 1 had to be in my sight at all times. Once I heard a small sound behind me. I turned around and difficult child 1 and a rope around difficult child 2's neck.

    I don't think it unreasonable to not want your step-son to come visit for 9 weeks until he gets better treatment (Residential Treatment Center (RTC)) to help him live peaceably with others. That line might go over better with your husband than I can't stand him and can't handle him.

    I'm glad your husband does most of the taking care of your step-son while he is there. I sympathize about how much time and energy it takes. I don't have the support of another spouse (mine has Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)) and have had to do all this alone. Our house is very messy.

    good luck
  10. batzy1

    batzy1 New Member

    Hello Liahona,
    What you described are my worst fears and what i believe my life will start turning into. Thank you so much for sharing with me, I have a question that may help me understand my husband more, did you go through a period of denial about what was going on with your difficult child 1 and if so, what made you snap out of it? I'm afraid it is going to take something tragic for my husband to snap out of his denial and agree to stop letting his difficult child 1 from staying here. The journal and video are two new tools I planned to have this summer as I learned it would have come in handy from last summer. I'm going to document everything he does and turn it over to his doctors because so far my husband and his ex haven't been giving the doctors all the details about what him. I figure I have the right to do that since he is in my care too for the summer. I've also got two small cameras charged and ready to go for those unavoidable moments my husband does have to use the restroom. I wish I had taped him last year so my husband could see the grin he would get on his face as he tried to hurt one of the dogs. I don't know how you handle everything by yourself, I guess you have no other choice. Sometimes no matter how much I love my husband, I just think my difficult child and I would be better off if I just said I couldn't do it anymore, does that make me a bad person? To leave someone because their child is unbearable? When I talk to people that haven't experienced such a child and can't grasp the seriousness of it, I get the response or looks of that I'm the bad person, and I've heard the comments of "how do you let an 8 year old run you or scare you?" They just don't get it. I'm glad I started writing on here, it's going to help me when he gets here this Saturday. I have no idea what to expect, I told my husband that I can't survive another summer like last one. He keeps saying he is going to handle it or take care of it, but how can he when he doesn't admit what is wrong with his son?
  11. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    Honey, your husband may not KNOW what is wrong... And it could be anything, honestly.

    My husband had ostrich syndrome for a long time. It took a drug-and-trespassing arrest PLUS assault PLUS running away PLUS false accusations while he was recovering from shoulder surgery and I was pregnant... To really take action. Now, actually this wasn't as BAD as some of the things he had ignored...
  12. JJJ

    JJJ Active Member


    Please difficult child-proof your home before Saturday.

    Lock up all....

    extension cords
    lighter fluid

    extra car keys
    anything with significant sentimental value

    Get an alarm system (radio shack, etc.) and set step-sons bedroom door to trigger the alarm when it is opened.

    Put solid, outdoor quality locks on your door and your son's door (better yet, move your son's bed into your room with you).

    Ensure that your son and all 4 dogs are in whatever room you are in.

    Higher teenagers to be helpers whenever you are home with difficult child and your husband is still at work (the only reason you should be home with difficult child without husband).

    Arrange to leave with your son and the dogs at least a couple of the weekends that difficult child is there (many hotels allow dogs if you don't have family you can go to).

    Do NOT allow difficult child to play in the neighborhood without supervision. Too many potential victims.
  13. buddy

    buddy New Member

    Hi, I'm so sorry for you. A full summer is too long of a time for you (and frankly at his age, for difficult child too...he is likely most bonded to his mom and that is a long time away)...but the bottom line is, yes an eight year old can be that dangerous. Whether he has bipolar or attachment disorder (look that up and see what you think) or whatever, your only issue is how to keep your house safe for your little easy child. A difficult child like that is sad, it is likely not his fault but not getting the right kind of therapy for him will only make things worse. I think you are amazing to be thinking of the cameras and locks and other difficult child-proofing and strategies. I agree that it would be wise to take whatever breaks you can ...a week by yourself with your baby at your parents or a siblings house....or weekends away.

    How does he do at his child care settings? I came across a documentary online and posted it here a while is the link:

    I had seen the movie long made about this girl long ago. IF his issue is at all related to attachment, it does not have to be an adoption situation like this girl. There are many reasons for this to happen, the common thread is an interruption in the ability for a child to receive typical bonding care in the years birth through three. This is the time that teaches a child to trust and care about others. In any event the documentary, even if not the same diagnosis as your difficult child, shows that VERY young children can be super dangerous.

    Please use this forum as a place to check in and vent. I can testify that even if no one can take my problems away, coming here allows me to cope much better.
  14. batzy1

    batzy1 New Member

    hello JJJ,
    Thanks for all the tips and all of that has been done already as I prepare myself for his arrival. My husband keeps telling me that I'm being negative and expecting the worse because I do this stuff, it just goes to show that he doesn't see his son as the threat that he is. It just makes me keep my guard up even more. There was one point last summer where I couldn't take it anymore and was driving to a hotel to get myself, my son, and our dogs a room and my husband called and begged me not to leave, that is when he finally started getting on board with handling the difficult child 1. I don't have any family close enough but I do have a couple friends that I can retreat to if I need to. Our sons room is right next to ours, while the difficult child 1's room is farther down the hall and his room locks on the outside. I also have baby monitor and the dogs are great, they do not like him one bit and if they hear him get out of bed they go nuts, so i have an alarm system. I know where difficult child 1 is at all times, if he tries to sneak off, the dogs follow and bark at him, I think that is a big reason he tries to hurt them, because he knows they are the reason he can't get away with stuff.
  15. batzy1

    batzy1 New Member

    Hello Buddy,
    I looked up the attachment disorder and I'm not sure how he was treated as an infanct and it would put my husband on the defensive if I asked, but I don't believe that applies to difficult child 1, I do however see the possibility of bipolar in difficult child 1, and I'm going to journal everything he does this summer and give it to the doctors and suggest they look into it. His doctors do not know about the sexual inappropriate actions because his parents do not tell them, nor have they told them about the killing comments or his threatening behavior or enjoyment of trying to hurt the dogs. This time though I'm going to make sure they know what went on here during the summer so they can get him the help he needs, the right help. This forum has been so helpful already, cause my husband really makes me feel that I'm blowing this out of proportion because of his denial of the seriousness. I'm hoping what I catch on video will wake my husband up some more. He has improved quite a bit and doesn't just blame me anymore like he did at first last summer, he said I was always seeing the negative in difficult child 1, my response was what did he show me that was positive and you know my husband didn't have one thing to say. Now with all that has happened since last summer, all the doctors and school official and even difficult child 1's own mom, my husband can't say it's me being negative. I'm preparing and protecting my own. Just yesterday, because my husband is back home helping his parents and picking up difficult child 1 he went to the therapy session for difficult child 1 and the therapists talks to both parents. My husband said that difficult child 1's mom was complaining to the therapist that difficult child 1 has gotten so much worse and that she even cries at night and doesn't know what to do. To hear this just stresses me out beyond belief, because it just confirms all my thoughts and I know whats coming. It's like watching the weather and seeing a hurricane headed this way and all you can do is prepare for the worse. I really just wish he didn't come here. So far I don't have any grounds that would make my husband agree to not having him for the summer. I know that sounds crazy after all I've said he's done, but my husband doesn't see him the way I do. He is getting there, and my hope is that maybe after this summer my husband will stop putting me, our son, and our dogs through the stress of dealing with difficult child 1. I'm afraid to even bring the topic up because i know my husband will see it as I'm making him choose between us and his difficult child 1, but that's not it. I just need him to wake up a little more and maybe he will stop putting us through this.