stepson with ADHD/BI-POLAR - FamilyEducation
stepson with ADHD/BI-POLAR
05/31/2007 at 13:07 PM

I am a step mom of 5 a now 15 1/2 yr old who is ADHD/BIPOLAR I've known the child for 9 yrs so i've practically raised him. My problem is he is very defiant with only me he does not display any defiancy when his dad is around only shows his nasty side when dad is not home. We have had many of arguements here he always has to have the last word he does not listen to me he just does the opposite. Homework is a huge problem here thats where most of the issues stem from he has the school fooled. he does not like doing his homework and when the teachers ask him for it he always tells them he forgot it at home but the truth of the matter is he doesnt do it at all. at home we confront him and he tells us he misplaced it or he forgot it in school its an endless battle with home work. most days now he comes in from school and talks to numerous friends on the telephone talking about nintendo games ect. my son is a big fanatic when it comes to games we have taken the games from him in order to get any kind of homework done.His father believes that by giving him back his games that it will solve the problems here in the house hold. His dad does not discipline his son at all more or less leaves it up to me and now the child resents me. I'm at my witts end here if anyone can help I would welcome any input or help you can give.

Hey cdunwoo,


Wow, it sounds like you are in quite a difficult situation.  I think the first thing you have to do is talk to your husband about how he is not helping the problem.  If he expects you to do all the discipline (which I don't think he should) then the least he can do is back you up and support your decisions.


Teens are so hard even when they are not facing the sorts of problems your step-son has been diagnosed with---have you all tried family counseling of some sort to help with these resentment issues?


Anyone else have any ideas?





I don't know if this will help but when my oldest daughter was in school (LD & ADD) home work was a big issue.  I set a time for homework to start, no if and's or buts! Then I had a paper with 6 boxes on it. The first 3 boxes were empty and in each of the next boxes was her favorite items.(barbies, bike & fav video) Every time I had to remind her to do her homework and X went in a box. The first 3 were give me's. After that she lost something. The first couple of times it was tough. After that, it was routine and she didn't lose anything. When there were no X's  she  would get something extra, like extra outside time or another program.  The most important thing is for Dad to stand by you and what you say. You need to be allies. My husband & I joke all the time "It's us against them" I have 4 daughters and now a grandaughter that I am helping to raise. 2 of my daughters are LD, ADD and one is ADHD! Good Luck! I hope this helps, Charlene


Hi my son is also diagnoced with adhd and suspect bi polar. well i am sorry to hear that your husband is not suporting you  because it takes consestant disaplening to help your son to focuse and feel secure in rutien .i feel that rewards are a great way to help him because a child at that age there is not alot left to choose from. i feel that alot of my sons anxiety came from my husbands and my stress between us,and my son was acting out to get the securety that he so despretly needed. my husband and i are going to counceling and sticking to a simpel planed out diselpan  plan so that the kids can count on that if they dont listen they loose a privlage , if they have a great day or consecutive days they get  a reward. i also try to remember to just catch them doing something anything nice or well or theyshow an atempt to keep calm , to give them verbal praise.


Well I have 5 kids. One is 16 now. When he was 9 the tteachers said he was adhd or add. They pestered me for so long and finally said he cant come back to school unless he is on medication so i put him on ritalin. Bad for him. He had a psychotic break. Aparently these teachers who had no patience just wanted him out of their hair. I kept saying i never saw any of the problems they described at home. His problems at home were totally different. Anyways to cut to the chase after his break and some time in the mental ward it was found that he was bi-polar. He was only 11. After the ritalin was stopped he was much better and then even more so when he was on bi-polar meds. Through it all my husband and I were on the same page. I hate to say it but to me i think the problem is more your husband than your son. If your husband was supportive and helped to discipline then your son would see more that his behavior is not ok and that is I think the only way anything is going to change for the better. Children act how they are allowed to act. If your son knows his father will not do anything about him being rude or otherwise disrespectful to you it is basically showing him that his father doesnt care about you or him and he will continue doing what he wants. I also think it is not fair for you to always be the bad guys with discipline. Parenting is all about sharing responsibilities equally to your abilities. I wish you good luck and a bit of hope. When he is older hopefully he will realize as so many kids do (including myself) that you really did a good job by him and perhaps he will feel bad about it but he will love you and respect you.


I myself have a bipolar son - soon to be 14 year old. Before being medicated he was like this. His medication for ADHD (which you do not mention) made his being bipolar (also) worse. He was a self-harmer and extremely violent and destructive. I thought he had learned it from his father. Well, he inherited it from his father. Bipolar Disorder also has some of the social issues that Asperger's has. Untreated it may look like ODD which is a conduct disorder. If he is not handing in homework, he is failing classes or ditching them which means failing also. Teachers cannot possibly keep on believing this and letting it go unless he has either a 504 or an IEP in place. You do not mention either of these. If the father does not help you in this you may get help from the school. If you are not a legal guardian of the child, your hands are tied. You can still call the school and talk with the teachers, I believe, but at this age, teens are experts at avoidance behavior. Advice given to me at one time was to leave the homework alone and let him fail. Natural consequences for his own choices. When/If the school calls the PARENT, then there is a chance to really work together with him and the child. Our high school has a daily homework log that must have the assignments written each day and a teacher signature which then is taken home for the parent to sign off on and is then turned in to his/her counselor. If you can get a counselor to care and greet him each day about homework, he may get back on track. I also have an older son who was ADD/Bi-Polar. He eventually graduated and is working. I have been through this once before. Different, but the same. I also work at a high school so I see an awful lot of what goes on and it is tough on everyone.

I have bipolar myself. Although I had only 3 credits left my senior year from taking summer school I had to graduate a year after.What helped me graduate later was getting a tutor. One who came over to my house 2-3x a week who helped me with my homework and schoolwork that didn't get finished.As for your husband, I would show him all these messages of everyone writing on the message boards of what we said and maybe he'll get a hint. :0)