Disrespectful Step Son Tearing the family apart - FamilyEducation
Disrespectful Step Son Tearing the family apart
02/02/2008 at 13:01 PM

My 11 year old step son is tearing our family apart.  He has been diagnosed with a number of ADD ADHD BiPolar etc, sees a psychologist and a counselor. He was adopted at birth,  Mom cowers to his every need, I am fed up with disrespect, back talk, refusal to do anything to help around the house.  Mom again gives in to his every wish, says she feels sorry for him.  He is 11, at what point do you say enough is enough and make him accountable for his actions as well as words?  He is ruining our marriage.

My best friend lets her 19 year-old get away with a lot of crap.  She's been divorced about 9 years, and her ex-husband is on wife #4, I think.  The ex has given the kids game systems and been the Disneyland dad but only pays child-support because his wages are garnished, while Mom has been keeping food on the table and a roof overhead. 

   The thing that I have seen is that she doesn't believe that her boy is mature enough to choose things that lead to good consequences.  He doesn't turn in his schoolwork, he doesn't follow through on much of anything.  He might graduate from highschool this spring, but it would surprise me.  She keeps protecting him from the bad consequences. 

  It seems to me that her protection is what is keeping him from growing up.  That since his own mom doesn't believe he can be a man, he's not going to be. 

  This doesn't really apply to your situation, except for the parallel that mom feeling bad about the situation is what is keeping the boy from learning what he needs to, so that he can grow up and take care of himself. 

  There are some pages on this site about back-talk.  Search it on the home page. 

cid
3780

I'm in the same predicament as you are except I'm on the other side. My husband never lets off of my 11 year olds case about anything and doesn't ever want to see that it can not just be because he has mental problems that it is all because he is being mean. In return I do try to discipline him but my husband just goes overboard on dealing with him and then I in return get upset with him for how he is handling my son. Then we get into it and it's just a vicious cycle . So if you figure out a way to handle your problems let me know because our relationship won't make it much longer if there is not some give and take from both of us.

cid
3907

Thanks for the input.  We have started family counseling, the only problem here is that the 11 year old refuses to accept responsibility for his actions, each time we go, he blames me for his behavior.  I have told him that I am willing to make this work, but he too needs to step up and make an effort.  Our marriage is not good due to his behavior, my wife can't see that he is the root cause for most of our problems.  If he would just learn to go by the rules, keep his mouth shut and respect me, I would lay off a bit. 
cid
4337

StepDad,

 

I think you have to be the one to hold him to a certain set of rules.  I was divorced when my boys were young and I too "felt sorry" for them.  My middle son was also diagnosed with ADD and has seen numerous couselors.  I really believe that if I would have forced him to clean his own room, help carry the groceries, hold the door for me and make restitution for his bad behavior he would be in a better place today.  He is really bad now and I know it is at least partly  my fault.  I still feel sorry for him when I punish him.   Maybe your wife can't be tough either.  A balance would be better.

 

I'm not saying good cop bad cop, cuz it's not fair to make you the bad guy all the time, but truely one of you must force consequence or it will be even more of a nightmare when he is 17. 

 

Right now is the time to say enough is enough... Trust me, I have made the same mistake  your wife is making and I am delaing with it stil... Be consitent and fair but be in charge!!

cid
4345

When I first started getting involved in my girlfriends life, she was much like your wife.  She would do everything for her little boy.  She could not stand putting pressure on him to play sports with the other boys, help clean the kitchen after dinner, make his own sandwich and so on. 

 

I did not force my opinion down her throat, but I did expect him to help when he is in my home.  If he wants a sandwich, he makes himself one.  If he comes wining that the other kids did something wrong, I ask him to go back and talk with the kids.  When we come home with groceries I insist he carries some in, when they arrive for the weekend with their bags she does not carry his in, he now carries his own.

 

It did cause some fights at first, but when she started to see the results of forcing him to respect others she was pleased.  He is even proud of himself now... He used to resist so much and now he volunteers.  Small things like having him take out the trash and then praising him for a job well done. 

 

It was gradual, he did not transform over night, but just after 6 months or so we all started to see results.  Be strong dad, this could save your son and your marriage.  At times i wanted to just let my girfriend have her way ( it's her kid and i did not want to fight with her) but I'm so glad i did not.    I did it because I love her and I want our life together to be happy.  

cid
4346

Thanks for the words of encouragement.  Unfortunately, I have been trying to help my stepson for almost 4 years now.  Counseling, Psychologist, etc...nothing seems to work.  I have told him that I want him to start taking responsibility for his actions.  He is 11 now, I can only imagine how he will be when puberty hits !!!  I also worry that he is a bad influence on my own son, he is 8 and comments on how the 11 year old disrepects me and his mother.  I tell him that I can handle it, but it is easy to hide my true feelings to an 8 year old (I think, he is very smart).

I would like to take the attitude that my wife will step up to the plate, but she takes 1 step forward and 3 steps back.  There are definitely differences in our parenting, but I refuse to be treated like crap by an 11 year old !!!


 

cid
4354

Actually, I think he is a bad example for your 8 year old.  I have seen my 8 year old copy his brother's actions at times and I make sure I correct him.  That's why it's even more important to get a handle on things.

 

I made the same mistake your wife is making with my first two sons so my little boy has been raised differently.  I have had higher expectations from the start and never let it get to that point.

 

It sounds like you want to give up.  You don't have confidence in your wifes ability  to recognize what she's doing wrong and you say you refuse to be treated like crap. 

 

Does your stepson's biological father get involved at all?

 

cid
4355

I notice you mentioned ADHD, bi-polar etc. To what extent is he disabled with these conditions. I think that is very relevant. I know it is hell for you but surely medical conditions have to be taken into account here. How accountable is he for his actions.
cid
4377

Junieg, He is taking meds for the ADHD etc. I know this is relavant, but to answer your question of how accountable is he?? He is only accountable when I am around, he walks all over his mother (by the way, he was adopted by my wife and her ex husband) His biological mother was diagnosed Bi Polar and she lives in the basement of her parents house (she is 38 years old). I was informed by my wife that he has now written a paper in school about his home life. He stated that I am too hard on him and that my expectations are too high. He again is not taking any responsibility for his actions. I really feel that this situation is hopeless, my wife is contemplating sending him to live with his adoptive father, (this guy is happy just drinking and pretendending to have a business). Not a good situation either. We have an appointment with a counselor tomorrow, I am ready to tell him that I have beat my head against a wall for almost 4 years trying to help my step son and I just cannot find the strength to do it anymore. I do not like the person that I have become due to this situation. I love my wife and came into this marriage knowing that it would not be easy, but how much can I take??? My son is even upset at the way his step brother treats me.
cid
4454

Tamz, Please read my comments I posted today. I am really torn. Stepdad
cid
4455

It makes me sad that your wife is considering handing the "problem" off to her ex. If her ex husband was better for this troubled kid then it would be the right thing to do. I bet, by now, she is desperate to save her marriage, and I don't blame her. I really feel like she should be more brave and just give the boy rules and structure. It is really the harder choice. I wanted to send my son to his dad SOOO many times. I still do actually!! If you and your wife could get on the same page with helping her son then she would have a great support in you. It sounds like you are willing to endure the pain of making him follow rules and reach certain goals. If your wife agreed to try it your way for a few months, would you sit with her son and have him read the paper to both of you? Would you ask him which goals you have set seem too hard for him to reach? Would you be willing to listen (without bias of the pain he has already imposed) to how he feels? Stepdad, are you too hard on him? Do you try to look for things he has done well and praise him? Do you find yourself in constant critisizm of him? This is not an accusation, it is a question. He is only 11 you might have time to help him if you and your wife work together. Life is not easy, but you also have your own son to consider here. The truth is, all this will effect his life too. It would be easier to give the boy away, but is it the right thing for him, for your wife, for you and your son?
cid
4456

You are correct in a lot of ways. Yeah, I have probably become too critical in some respects. But, This kid really needs structure also. I know I should lay off a bit, but I am just soooo tired of the disrepect and blatant disregard for the rules. I find it hard to praise him, I guess that my "Give a Damn" is busted. (Jodi Massena song) I don't want to send him back to his dad, and I told my wife that it will be her decision, not mine. I know this will break everyone's hearts, but what will happen as he gets older?? I am drowning in conflict, my only outlet is work and that has become increaslingly difficult to concentrate on.
cid
4457

Stepdad, I may not be great at advice, but I can listen and support you. I understand your frustration very well. But the good news is experience and challenge has certainly made me wiser.
cid
4458

If you don't get control of him now I promise "what will happen as he gets older" is that the trouble he gets into will be bigger. My son started out when he was young disobeying, starting fires, fighting with other kids, keeping his space messy and so on... Now that he is older he steals the car, punches the walls, uses drugs and more... I strongly believe what I first advised about this and that is "get control now or it will be a nightmare when he is older." Your wife has some big choices to make right now. Even if she gives him over to his dad, the dad can make it worse then send him back to her. If she decides to give him to his dad then she should consider making it permanent,give up her rights to him and let him be his dad's responsibility. If she chooses to send him away and give up her rights, then she should still visit, advise and love him. After all, she did make a commitment to him long ago and if she does not stick by him, what makes you think she will stick by you when times get hard?
cid
4459

OK, the crap hit the fan yesterday. I found out that my step son is now complaining in school that I am too tough on him. He actually wrote an essay about how tough his life is. I applaud him for expressing his feelings, but no where in the essay was there any mention of him taking responsibility or possibly being the cause of some of the problems. The teacher has now mentioned Social Services. My stepson also went to see his psychiatrist yesterday and did nothing but complain about me. His mom was there and was told that the family is on the verge of being reported to SS. There is no physical abuse what so ever, and the Drs seem to be reading a lot more into this based on his comments. He is very manipulative and at this point I am afraid that he is blowing things way out of proportion. The worst of it is that this could also affect me seeing my own son. HELP!!!!! I have an appointment with his Drs today.
cid
4473

My sister married a man who had two little girls. My sister did not get on well with one of the girls. Social Services did get involved and my sister had to move out of the house for a time in order to protect the girl. My sister has a young girl of her own (12) and social services did come to her home to asses the safety of not only the one girl child but my sister's own child. All I am saying is that when social services gets involved it is scary and they do have power over the troubled child, but also your own child. I do not believe they always make good decisions for families. I know this because I ended up with the troubled girl and I dealt with SS for two years. Gosh, you are in such a pinch... I feel so bad for you!!! Would it be possible for you to voluteer to leave your home for a time and let the mom take care of her son and his issues without input from you? At least then nobody has reason to question his safety and you can see your own child on your own terms. It sounds horrible to parent your son from a hotel room for a time, but I think it's kinda already horrible... Im so sorry for you and your family... This has escalted out of hand...
cid
4475

What he needs is a good spanking with a belt on the bare bottom.
cid
4578

Oh GREAT idea Znick!!!...corporall punishment is the answer... Why didn't I think of that??? I'm certain he will face a lot more trouble should he decide to start hitting the kid. I suggest we hit you with a belt for suggesting this. You are slow of mind and primitive.
cid
4579

Tamz, Znick is obviously trying to annoy anyone he can. I think mom and dad left him home alone. It seems that every post he replies to, his solution is to spank the child. For some reason he strikes me as the kind of person who, if hit in the nose, would suffer a broken finger.
cid
4582

KNick, have you not read any posting about spanking. Or is singledad right and you are a wind-up merchant. Spanking never solved anything and I feel so sorry for your children if this is your answer to any problem. A child fails a test and you get right in there with the spanking! Your children are going to learn that the only way to solve any problem is to lash out with violence. Remember, one day your children will be grown ups. Hope they don't get their own back then!!!!! Or do I?
cid
4589

So, how are things going now? Any improvements in the situation?
cid
4705

Hi. I feel for you. I am in a similar situation with my 8 year old stepson. However, my husband does discipline. It just doesn't seem to work. And, like in your situation, everything is my fault. Our main problem is people filling his head with things (bm, paternal grandparents, etc). He is ADHD and bm has bipolar. He sometimes gets physical with me and my son (who is 3). Also my son has started acting up more. We did send ss to live with bm for a while but after 2 months she brought him back to our house. He behaves if he gets to play video games all day, but the minute you ask him to do something or get on to him, he is mean and hateful. He told me once that he would behave more if I let him do what he wanted, when he wanted. Anyway, I am at my wits end and can barely stand to be around him. It has definitely hurt my marriage so I feel for you.
cid
5129

StpDad, I am wondering how things are playing out. When I read the post of stepmom2 I see that when the unruly child was sent to his biomom, she sent him back in two month. That is what I suspected would happen in your case if your wife sent her son to his biodad and did not relinquish her rights. Tell me how things are going.
cid
5133

Hello everyone who has since wondered what is going on in the circus. Well things got better for a while, I actually went out of the country on business and returned last weekend. Step son did a 180 when I came home and has been just as disrespectful as usual. I finally broke down and went to see my dr to get something for my anxiety. Now I have to figure out what the next move is. I am really sick of this kid tearing apart my marriage, but mom still coddles him and he still disrepects her also!!!!!
cid
5234

I'm sorry to hear things aren't going any better for you. They aren't here either. I have told my husband what I need from him in order to make it work (more help with ss in regards to parental duties, finding a babysitter, etc) but he hasn't done these things. I think that he thinks if he ignores the problem long enough it will go away. However, what will go away isn't the problem, it is me. My biggest concern is my younger son who is picking up these bad habits. He has been a lot more defiant and talking back a lot more since ss has returned. His babysitter has even mentioned it. I am also seriously considering ending my marriage for the sake of my sanity! Please keep me updated. I hope it somehow works out for you.
cid
5247

Hi stepdad, I'm not in your situation, but I greatly sympathize w/ you. I haven't had time to read every post here, but I have one suggestion. Not sure if anyone else thought of this. By me, there are private schools that focus specifically on children's special needs (some for ADHD, learning disabilities...). Some of these schools board the kids and are very expensive. However, I know someone who, w/ the help of a lawyer, got her local school district to pay for her son to attend such a school. I can totally understand how your stepson can be tearing apart your family. The whole thing is really sad. I'm sure in everyone's hearts, you all want to help this boy. However, for the sake of your family and your marriage, maybe you can consider a boarding school or facility that is equipped to handle your stepson's needs. There are options out there. I wld also continue counceling, not only for your stepson, but for your entire family. Overall, I sincerely wish you and your family all the best.
cid
5300

I can sympathize with you and your wife. I too have a disrespectful son (11yrs old) and I am remarried. For us, my son is still holding onto a lot of anger from the divorce from his dad. I struggle daily with how to handle his behavior. My husband feels the same way you do and it has also caused problems in our marriage. I love my husband with all my heart but guess what, I love my kids just as much (if not more.) We have 3 all together (2 from my previous marriage and one together.) The child that is his own, he treats like a princess. Over time, my husband became so irritated with my sons behavior he became physically unable to show him love. He would discipline him constantly but never gave him anything positive. I realize he doesnt have that bond that you have when its your own son. However, he is my own son and I do have that bond. I would discipline him too but then I would feel bad for the lack of love he was getting from his stepdad so I would try to make up for it. I have felt like I was directly in the middle of the two of them for the past 4 years. Divorce is not an option for us. Who does it help? Definitely not the kid. I have come to realize that I cannot make my son and my husband have this magical relationship. I know that my husband has a good heart and means well by my son. I remind myself of that everytime. I decided to trust in God and I know that when my son is old enough (could be when he is 30) he will realize we gave him all we could. If its possible, I suggest you and your wife re-commit to one another 100%. The pair of you have to be unified and stand together...put aside your differences. You are both allowing him to come between you and are also telling yourself there is an "out" when things get bad. If you think the kid doesnt know that, youre wrong. Heck, the kid may even think he likes the idea of you leaving. Kids dont know what is good for them. Thats why we have parents. Ask yourself, what am I gaining by leaving? Is it going to benefit this kid if I leave? Of course not. SOMEBODY has to teach him how to behave. Leaving is the easy way out...your not just giving up on yourself, and your wife, you are giving up on a child. The only thing you have control of...is your attitude. Not your wife's, not your kid's. Step up, stepdad! Put your marriage back together. You and I both know there are deeper problems than just the kids behavior if you are willing to leave!! Take control of your marriage not the kid. If the kid knows he cant come between you...you will see a difference. What do you have to loose? Time to be on your own w/o the headache? Now, what does that kid have to loose? everything. Good luck to you!
cid
5790

Hi, just wanted to say I really hope everything is going much better for you now. I have just joined and read your post and replies and am in exactly the same situation... very much breaking point! :( My stepson is 9 and I am losing it as he is just pushing me off the edge! Hope you got all your probs sorted though. Take Care, Kez
cid
16614

Hello Step Dad The number one rule in mixed marriages is ... the bio parent handles the discipline. When the boy freaks out and you want to interject or offer advice, or do not agree with the response of the mother, you need to remain neutral, leave the room and do not offer your opinion in front of the boy or anyone else. Wait till you are in private and review the situation with you wife, while not belittling or berating her but offering yoru point of view and coaching. I would suggest family counseling for at least the mother and son - if not having you included as well. For a child with mental illness' all of these behaviors are normal and to be expected. You have to hold them accountable and keep a very structured environment. Your wife is probably so overwhelmed and sad that her son won't be the man she wishes he could be, and she needs to come to grips with that, and get counseling and get teh boy counseling so he can learn to deal appropriately with his limitations. If she and the boy don't get help, he could very well end up arrested or hurt or running away, and you could end up divorced from all of the stress in dealing with it. Remember, your wife is your wife you need to love her no matter what, and her relationship with her son is a separate issue. Support her and love her and don't tear her apart or make her choose sides. She loves her son. Encourage them both to get professional help.
cid
16664

I have been married for three years and my step son has alot of metal problems and is spoiled. He is breaking up my marriage and now my husband wants to move out but remain married. My husband can only see his sons side. He never wants to do chores he is very disrespectful he calls me names and never lets us be together. He makes my home very unpleasant. There is so much more to say but the bottom line is my stepson wants to breakup my marriage and my husband has surrendered to this.
cid
25207

First of all I respect and commend you for your heartfelt desire to do the right thing by your family and also for your willingness to try new things to improve both the relationship with your stepson and your wife. I've been where your stepson is many years ago before they had a medical diagnosis for ADD, ADD/HD, or Childhood Depression and I want to help you understand your stepson if you'll let me, because I want you to be able to help him learn to live the life of his choosing just as my children do. My children also were victimized by these disorders, but since I understood the chaos they brought into my life, I was able to help them learn to manage them instead of being managed by them. Please view my profile and consider my book as a possible aide in helping both you and your wife. I came on this site to seek resources, not to promote my book, but after reading your story I can't walk away without suggesting it to you and others that are in similar situations. My heart goes out to you, but my heart goes out to your stepson too. I believe with all my heart "From a Child's Perception" can help both you and your wife understand what your stepson is feeling and then a battle plan can be drawn up to help reestablish your relationship as a family and your son will also reap the benefits of family. A child with emotional problems combined with these disorders defines my childhood and I penned it for families in situations like yours and others who have commented on your situation. I think you'll find it ironic how my childhood parallels what you've described. I'm not a professional! I lived the expereinces you're describing as a child and my husband and I faced similar problems when we blended our families, but we're a success story and that's why I've shared my dysfunctional childhood and life story with the world. I believe with all my heart "From a Child's Perception" can help you understand where your stepson is at both mentally and emotionally and then perhaps a balance can be achieved. Won't you please give it a chance! I feel for you, but since I've been where your stepson is, I feel for him just as deeply! Please don't give up! You have nothing to lose except the price of the book and I'll buy it back if you don't find useful information in it to help both you and your wife understand what is needed to help your stepson. No, it's not a magic pill, but it will lend you a broader understanding and give you a starting place. You can google the book or go to www.publishamerica.com I do so hope you'll look into this and please keep us posted! Prayers of success come to you and yours!
cid
25208

First of all I respect and commend you for your heartfelt desire to do the right thing by your family and also for your willingness to try new things to improve both the relationship with your stepson and your wife. I've been where your stepson is many years ago before they had a medical diagnosis for ADD, ADD/HD, or Childhood Depression and I want to help you understand your stepson if you'll let me, because I want you to be able to help him learn to live the life of his choosing just as my children do. My children also were victimized by these disorders, but since I understood the chaos they brought into my life, I was able to help them learn to manage them instead of being managed by them. Please view my profile and consider my book as a possible aide in helping both you and your wife. I came on this site to seek resources, not to promote my book, but after reading your story I can't walk away without suggesting it to you and others that are in similar situations. My heart goes out to you, but my heart goes out to your stepson too. I believe with all my heart "From a Child's Perception" can help both you and your wife understand what your stepson is feeling and then a battle plan can be drawn up to help reestablish your relationship as a family and your son will also reap the benefits of family. A child with emotional problems combined with these disorders defines my childhood and I penned it for families in situations like yours and others who have commented on your situation. I think you'll find it ironic how my childhood parallels what you've described. I'm not a professional! I lived the experiences you're describing as a child and my husband and I faced similar problems when we blended our families, but we're a success story and that's why I've shared my dysfunctional childhood and life story with the world. I believe with all my heart "From a Child's Perception" can help you understand where your stepson is at both mentally and emotionally and then perhaps a balance can be achieved. Won't you please give it a chance! I feel for you, but since I've been where your stepson is, I feel for him just as deeply! Please don't give up! You have nothing to lose except the time it takes to read the book and I know you’ll find useful information in it to help both you and your wife understand what is needed to help your stepson. No, it's not a magic pill, but it will lend you a broader understanding and give you a starting place. www.publishamerica.com has the best pricing, and I do so hope you'll look into this and please keep us posted! Prayers of success come to you and yours!
cid
25243

Given the things your stepson has been diagnosed with, he may not know HOW to account for himself. I am a special education teacher, and have taught all ages from preschool to high school, and many different levels. Children with special needs don't only need academic education, but need to be taught social skills as well. Does he receive any special education services at school? If so, his social skills need to be addressed as well. If not, this is something to take up with a psychologist or psychiatrist. I have a niece who is ADHD and possible bipolar, and her psychiatrist works on her social skills with her. Good luck, and remember that he may not be able to control what he is doing. Yes, I know that is hard to swallow, but it is very true.
cid
25270

If the psychologist and counseling isn't working, can you find new ones? Don't give up!
cid
25271

You need to put your foot down now. My stepson in turning 18 on Friday. My husband and I do not even live in the same house right now because of him. Stand your ground now and be prepared for a fight. Everyone needs to be on the same page with this child. He will destroy your marrage if you don't do something now. Good luck.
cid
26623

I agree with global mum on this. Two of my grown up sons have ADHD, one with additional Asperger's. He was not always accountable for his impulsive actions and I agree that some sort of counselling should be addressing those social skills. Please try to have some patience and help in this area.
cid
26626

I do agree!!!!!!! In i will listen to you because I thinking Abt moving too myself. If we don't put our foot down my stepson will DESTROY MY MARRIAGE and the FAMILY.....
cid
29551

I'm also at witts end. I have a 15 yr old step daughter from my wife's previous marriage. We have done classes how to deal. It worked for a month until my wife stop CONSEQUENCES for bad behavior. Lieing, stealing, failing school. It's now caused me to resent my wife due to her practices with her daughter. She throws tantrums. As well breaking things in our home.
cid
31411