Stepson doesn't follow rules, Dad doesn't enforce them, I'm the bad one
01/19/2011 at 05:00 AM

I have a 13 year old step-son. His dad has spent his life feeling sorry for him and doesn't really parent him. He has wanted me to be a parent to his kid but isn't consistant with backing me up. My husband makes up rules and never enforces them or follows through on the rare occasions he punishes. His kid never does anything he's saposed to and has to be told me. I've tried to talk to my husband and he gets so mad and defensive. Our relationship is suffering b/c I'm so stressed out about his kid. We have a 3 year old together and it all affects him too. I just don't know what to do anymore. He doesn't seem to want to fix any of the problems and then wonders why I'm so unhappy. Here's an example....I have a problem with a 13 year old pooping the tub. I think help needs to be looked into. Besides the gross factor it's just unsanitary for the rest of us. He does nothing about it except tells him to pay attention to what he's doing. I make him clean it up and then the kid has to clean the shower, but then I'm the bad one. Nothing is done about the lack of using soap in the shower or brushing his teeth after we've spent thousands on fixing various issues. I've had councelors/therapists even tell me I'm doing thigs right and my husband just doesn't care. What do I do?

I think you are wise to have professionals looking at this. Most of my children have gone through a phase where they were secretive about different things, but your experience sounds way beyond that. When I was certifying for foster care I learned in a training that this behavior is common among children who have been in situations where food is scarce and among children who have been removed from their homes even if food has always been plentiful. The plan we implemented with our foster children was to provide them "emergency" backpacks near their bedside with a flashlight, snacks, bandaids, a water bottle, pencil and paper, and a dollar. If they ate the food they could re-stock from the pantry, no questions asked, and every Monday I checked and re-stocked the backpack. We also scheduled after-school and bedtime snacks along with 3 square meals a day.