sofrustratedFebruary 27, 2009

SS6 is extremely manipulative. I can't even begin to tell you all how much he's got DH wrapped around his little finger. Makes me want to puke on most days. DH coddles him to the point where I have to walk away from it or else I will end up doing or saying something that will get me in trouble.

DH does not want to acknowledge how manipulative SS6 is. I try to point out different examples to DH and all he says is, he's a normal 6 year old boy - what do you want? I have a son that is developmentally disabled. He is 4. SS6 takes every opportunity in the book to take advantage of his disabilities and just be a bully on a lot of different occassions. When I step in and try to moderate the two kids, DH always says I'm being too harsh on SS.

Here is a perfect example. My son gets up in the AM and watches DORA while I get his lunch ready. He sits in the same chair every day. SS6 is eating breakfast at this time in the dining room (DS4 eats breakfast at school with his PreK class). SS6 usually has very little time for watching TV so this usually isn't an issue but it became one the other day. DS4 came into the kitchen to ask me to turn Dora on. He hadn't sat down in his chair yet. SS6 immediately raced over to the chair and sat down when he heard and saw DS4 in the kitchen with me. DS4 then went into the room to sit in his chair and watch Dora like he does every morning and SS6 refused to get up. I asked him to get up and he refused. He said that DS4 always gets to sit in that chair. I told SS6 that he is usually eating breakfast and this is DS4's routine and asked him to sit in another chair. The chair in question is the preferred "kid" chair. I've asked DH to get 4 identical chairs like this one and he refused saying that there are 4 chairs in the room (there are) and that we didn't need to spend money on 4 identical chairs (we have 4 kids) if there were 4 chairs. I argued with DH about this but he wasn't budging. The chair in question is also something that I bought for my DD2 so technically speaking, it's my kids' chair.

So...back to the story...I asked SS6 again to get up and he refused. I then told him that he would get a punishment if he didn't get up. He got up at that point and went and cried to DH. DH and I then got into an argument b/c he says that everybody should get to sit in that chair and they usually do but in the AM, SS6 is usually eating breakfast and it's a non-issue. And then I brought up DH not wanting to get 4 identical chairs and how it is STILL creating problems (and now we have no money to buy them b/c DH spent all the tax money already on computer garbage!).

My point in writing this whole saga is that SS6 was being manipulative when he ran to sit in that chair knowing full well that DS4 sits there every morning. The ONLY reason he did that was b/c he knew what would happen. Then, it's like he wanted DH and I to argue over it (which we did in private). It just gets my blood boiling. And when I point it out to DH what I think SS6's motives are he tells me that's complete garbage and SS6 is not doing anything wrong.

UGH! And issues like these happen DAILY. I just do not know how to deal with a co-parent that cannot see how truly manipulative their child is. And the fact that DS4 is not only 2 years younger than SS6 and he's also mildly developmentally disabled, well, that in itself should make DH realize that SS6's motives are bullyish at the very least. SS6 thinks b/c he's the oldest that he runs the show and believe me, I knock him down a few pegs when he gets that attitude.

I just hate dealing with carp like this. I know you all can relate.

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Just based on the Dora example, I agree with your DH on this one. This sounds like typical 6 yo sibling rivalry. It also sounds like SS6 feels like DS4 is getting preferential treatment.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2009 at 1:28PM
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"My point in writing this whole saga is that SS6 was being manipulative when he ran to sit in that chair knowing full well that DS4 sits there every morning. The ONLY reason he did that was b/c he knew what would happen. Then, it's like he wanted DH and I to argue over it (which we did in private"

I don't doubt that SS knew full well sitting in that particular chair would cause problems. My guess, though, is not that he wanted you and DH to argue, but that he wanted to get a reaction from YOU. Given that he and your son ARE so close in age, I would bet that your SS feels competitive with him, particularly when it comes to attention from you or your DH. This is a common problem in stepfamilies. Actually, what your SS did does NOT strike me as that abnormal, even for two full-blooded bio siblings---it sounds like sibling rivalry to me! If these were both your children, I doubt you would be as upset about issues like this.

Trust me, though--I get it. I know how you feel. I think these kinds of issues tend to be exacerbated in stepfamilies because there is that underlying sense of "this is MY mom" or "this is MY dad" or "my house," etc.

I would agree that more of the "special chairs" might be needed. My DD and SS are the same age (6 weeks apart) and we really cannot have anything special for one that the other doesn't have. I say this within reason. Yes, my DD might get a special treat for this or that and vice versa with SS. But, for example, for Christmas they BOTH got Nintendo DSs. NO WAY could we have pulled off one getting one and the other not.

In the kids' play room, they have two egg swivel chairs---one blue, one red. They are AWESOME IKEA chairs and I know if we just had one, they would fight over it constantly.

I would either a)remove this special chair from the house or b) get more of them. It sounds like it is not worth the aggravation.

I DO understand that you feel this chair belongs to your kids but from your SS's 6 year old point of view---that isn't fair. It really isn't. You cannot expect a 6 year old to have that amount of maturity. Yes, 6 is older than 4, but they are still extremely close in age and will naturally like and want the same toys, things, etc. If you were talking about a 10 year old and a 4 year old, then I might have a different opinion.


    Bookmark   February 27, 2009 at 1:35PM
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Sorry! It sounds normal to me too. Either get rid of the chair, buy more or be willing to deal with the difficulties that will arise from having to share it.

I have a chair story. My mother lived with us. My DH asked that he could have his own chair. He likes to sit in the same place every night and he likes to have his own chair. Whatever. No big deal, right? All of the chairs are the same around the table except DD has her own chair that is a little higher.

My mother would constantly sit in his chair. We tried switching "his" chair (not the actual chair, but the place at the table) to the chair that was most inconvenient to get to. Still, she sat at the chair. And made a fuss that "in her family, no one had assigned chairs... blah blah..."

Now, that is manipulation and intentional, IMO. When there are four other chairs to sit in, and are more convenient, and you know another adult prefers to have their own space...

    Bookmark   February 27, 2009 at 1:46PM
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I agree that the chair has to go. It's creating more problems than it's worth.

I am not so much saying that SS6's behavior is abnormal - I just want DH to see it as what it is - the motives behind what SS6 is doing. DH thinks he does no wrong and that he doesn't have a cross bone in his body. I know better than to have those kinds of feelings about my own kids. I'm the first to step up and say if they are doing something manipulative like that. DH just won't and that's my problem. And I agree - this could be a bio-sibling issue too with the other parent not "seeing" it. I'm sorry I didn't make it more clear that I understand that.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2009 at 2:44PM
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I still think you are not getting what we are saying. I don't think the child is being manipulative at all. His behavior just doesn't meet my definition of manipulation. I think he just wants to be treated fairly. As with the chair, maybe you should consider whether you are treating the kids equally or maybe treating your bio son specially, which may be the root of the problem. It sounds to me that you want DH to take your side against his son. I don't know what goes on in your home and I am not accusing you. I am just sensing that there may be a subconcious feelings of resentment towards the ss, which of course is not abnormal, but needs to be addressed.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2009 at 2:59PM
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I'm thinking by not having your hubby at least acknowledge some of the little "devil" in his sons behavior might have you more upset than your SS6's actual behavior.
And I get that.
You need to find the words that help your hubs understand that by him defending his son at all costs is costing the entire family.
One thing my father would NEVER put up with was any of us kids disrespecting or arguing with our step mom. But I also must say that I never felt a trickle of favoritism coming from my SM towards her bio child. I miss her. She taught me great things.
I hope you find a way to resolve these issues while the kids are young...and I hope for you that all of your children have the same warm feelings we had for our step parent. I mean that from the bottom of my heart :)

    Bookmark   February 27, 2009 at 3:24PM
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I can relate because I raised 3 kids and dealt with this normal sibling rivalry. With my kids, it was always a fight over where to sit in the car. I would not get rid of the chair, the kids NEED to learn to resolve problems and get along. This is a perfect opportunity to teach them about taking turns and sharing.

The way it seems to me... you are upset that YOUR son got upset at not being able to sit in the chair. I don't think it's so much about the chair. Perhaps your SS was upset at seeing your son get to sit in the chair everyday and maybe that upset him. Is one child's feelings more important than the others?

I also think it's problematic when you say "technically speaking, it's my kids' chair". That comment says a lot about your willingness to bend or share. How are the kids going to learn if the parents are not setting an example? When my husband moved in with me, he brought his big screen TV and we moved my TV to our room. He once referred to the TV in the livingroom as HIS because he bought it and 'technically' he did. But, technically he married me and technically he put it in a common room that is used by everyone so it became 'community property', not HIS. So, that kind of statement strikes a little nerve with me. If it's your kids' chair, then it belongs in your kids' room but it's unfair to say "well, I bought it so my kids can use it and yours can't" Unless of course, you want him to treat your kids that way.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2009 at 3:25PM
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Good point, Ima. If the adults are going to teach a lesson to the kids about the importance of sharing (as they should), they need to be willing to share themselves!

Whenever I hear/read a step-parent complaining about a small child being "manipulative", or otherwise attributing complex, learned, honed adult strategies and motives to that child, it always seems to me that the adult complaining needs to question their own emotions. It doesn't mean you're a bad person, but more likely that you have some very normal feelings of comparison/competition and even some resentment towards your SK compared with your BK. These feelings aren't being acknowledged or dealt with directly, honestly or properly so they get warped into this intense discomfort with the idea that the SK is 'getting away with something'. The giveaway in my opinion is that the thing that ticks you off the most ---even to the point of nausea and disgust--- is the idea that your husband can't see how rotten the kid is (per your perception of him) and especially that it makes you sick to see your husband showing affection to him ('coddling', as you put it). Now, can you imagine feeling disgusted by that if SS was your BK? Do you mind when DH 'coddles' your BK? To me it seems like your issue isn't even REALLY about discipline, sharing, or manners... it's that your husband's love and affection for his son is not 100% conditional upon his behaving like some fantasized ideal of a perfect little boy who demands & expects nothing. Even in situations where he is basically being told that someone else's whims are more important than his.

Does SS have/use anything on a regular basis, to the point where it would be considered 'HIS', and which you would chastize your son or other kids about were they to mess with it?

I don't necessarily find fault with the idea of everyone in the family having some things that are theirs alone and not to be considered communal... as long as it's fairly and evenly applied and very clearly explained and spelled out (as in, literally, their name on it). (I mean besides the obvious ownership in the case of personal items like clothes, bedroom articles, bookbags, etc.) Much of the problem you described about the chair can probably be traced to it never having been clearly designated as your BK's chair alone... especially since it's in a communal part of the house... and that it doesn't sound like anyone else ever gets their own special chair.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2009 at 4:55PM
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Well said Serenity :)

    Bookmark   February 27, 2009 at 11:42PM
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Thank you everyone for all of the advice. I do appreciate it.

I think my whole - the chair is my kids' thing comes from DH. It's always been - everything is mine and yours and not much is "ours". It's something that he's perpetuated ever since we've been married and I hate it and now I'm falling into that whole nastiness too. Just recently we got a tax return back and instead of just spending it together, he said he wanted to split it down the middle so he could buy himself stuff and I could do whatever I wanted with mine. Incidentally I am buying stuff for the house (that we desperately need) and am also putting it towards a much needed vacation. He spent his on his computer (for his own use) and a TV (which we do all use). But I digress....

SS gets PLENTY of attention so that's not an issue. He is never even watching TV in the morning. He is eating his breakfast at the table and there's a TV in there too for him to watch transformers or whatever else he watches (as he does not even like dora). This was purely a - I want to cause trouble - scenario. And the thing that gets me the most is that all other times of the day, HE'S the one that gets that chair and all the younger ones either sit on the floor or drag over the less desirable chairs.

I hear what you guys are saying about SS and I don't think he's a rotten kid or anything, I more or less just wish DH didn't think he's such an angel when he's not. My issue is with DH as well as with SS. And believe me, if one of my bio-kids is doing something like what SS is doing, he's getting called out on it too - I'm definitely an equal opportunity disciplinarian. :)

    Bookmark   February 28, 2009 at 7:41AM
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I see it as a minipulation. OP said that this is her and son's morning routine, and as such then ss knows it is. He just did it to get a rise out of her. That is manipulation.
Besides I also get the feeling that is just one scenario he has played out.
I know all about kids who manipulate.
Most of the time they border on the manipulation/normal for age thing to outsiders. But the one who is there the most sees it first hand.
Some kids are very good at manipulation, even as early as 6.
I also think it was bad because the OP's son is developmentally disabled, and ss still trying to pull his games. He needs to know that he can not behave that way.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2009 at 4:38PM
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I don't doubt that there are some kids who learn how to be manipulative at a young age ---often because they are not encouraged to express their needs/upsets directly, just like with adults--- but it just seems like an inordinate amount of stepchildren are perceived this way as opposed to bio-children, even the same children.

Some of the discrepancy could be semantics. Behavior that one person (probably the kid's bio-parent) would call "testing the limits" is often perceived as "manipulation" by another person (often the kid's step-parent). The two concepts have in common that the kid finds indirect ways to make a point, or express a feeling or a desire that goes against some rule or disrupts the status quo. But the words connote different things. "Testing limits" is something that --depending on youer personality/ideology-- can be seen as natural, clever, even instinctual, even brave and admirable. "Manipulation" suggests deviousness of a slightly diabolical sort... it suggests a certain corrupted character. And when it's applied to a child it suggests an unnatural amount of this corruption and deceptiveness, to the point of being ominous.

I would describe what SS did with the chair as "testing the limits". It's a valid question he asked with his actions, when he disrupted the status quo for that moment. The limits he was testing are vague and undefined. He was trying to determine what these limits actually are, and why they exist.

Not saying at all that SS was totally 'innocent', or 'an angel' when he sat in that chair. I totally agree that he had an intent in doing so, and it was to disrupt the status quo for the purpose of questioning why it is what it is. But I don't see how this was so bad, or wrong, or how this should affect how his father perceives him or how much affection he is shown. Besides, kids don't have to be totally 100% innocent, or angels, or unquestioning to still be basically normal, healthy, lovable kids.

It also seems that you took your upset about your husband not treating the tax refund as communal money out on the kid... kind of a half-subconscious tit-for-tat game... presumably because you didn't directly express any upset to your husband about the division. Instead of saying "hey, DH, I'm a little ticked that you're doing 'mine vs. yours' with the refund", you complained to him about his son sitting in YOUR son's chair. Is that manipulation? Whose behavior bothered you more: SS or DH?

    Bookmark   March 1, 2009 at 12:04AM
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"I don't doubt that there are some kids who learn how to be manipulative at a young age"

IMO, ALL kids are manipulative by nature. They do what works to get what they want. whether you say it's 'testing the boundaries/limits' or if you call it manipulation... it's pretty much the same thing or used in conjunction with each other. They are seeing how much they can achieve what they need to do to get what they want. Testing the limits is seeing how much they can get or get away with... manipulation is using different methods to figure out how to achieve the desired results when one thing doesn't work.

In OP's case, I would say it is manipulation if the child had a desired outcome.. such as making the parents fight over him 'getting away with it'. Testing the limits might be considered if he is doing it to see if he can get away with 'beating the younger son to the chair' without getting in trouble. Either way, testing the limits and manipulation are normal child tactics... until they are taught that behaving that way is unacceptable. If they are not taught how to deal with things, then they may continue to become better at manipulation.

It's just my opinion but I also think that the reason some (step) kids seem more manipulative is perhaps while the parents are going through the divorce process, they may become so involved in their own problems that the child's needs are not met and when the parents date or get involved with someone, some kids struggle to get or keep the attention they might feel they are not getting and they do manipulate to get more attention. That's just a theory I have but it does not mean every child from divorce does that or that every child that manipulates does it for that reason.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2009 at 1:42AM
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One kid, always getting the chair or whatever, will come across as special treatment. SS 6 will see it that way. He's 6 for goodness sake, and not Damien from the Omen.

Choose your battles for one.

For another, tv in the morning before school is baaad for kids. It's been shown that they concentrate far less well at school if they've watched tv first. better it's after school, and limited.

My wife is a teacher and has observed that herself.

That being said, it's difficult treading on eggshells around stepkids. Choose your battles and try and be in the other parents shoes. If you still think things are monstrously unfair, consider again if it's worth making waves over (without surrendering on the other hand, completely) and discuss it with DH.

If you end up constantly with odds with ss, it will turn out badly. Look for positives and attempt to have positive experiences with him too. If it's all negative, how will ss perceive you? I'm not advocating spoiling him but if he perceives you negatively, that's not going to help and will make his relationship with his stepbrother worse. At their young age there is great potential for them to develop a good relationship, try to nurture that. COnsider also how much biological siblings bicker.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2009 at 3:32AM
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I agree with wild thing on this one.
1. SS6 knows the routine.
2. SS6 gets that chair all the time except for the morning which he know DS4 is going to get that for his morning routine.
3. SS6 did do this to cause the pot to stir so to speak and he knew we was doing it.
4. Husband dear needs to acknowlege that though some behaviour is normal due to age its doesn't make it ACCEPTABLE TO BEHAVE RUDELY.
1. He disobeyed an adult when asked to do something
2. He disrespected his wife when asked to do something
3. He purposely took a chair...a specific chair inthe house from a disabled boy.
4. He gets that chair all time except for the morning...
Therefore...mmm..what can i say? Your SS6 knew what he was doing and yes it is sibling rivalry..but its also selfishness and he needs to learn a lesson and unfortunatly Dad doesn't want to teach him.
I would tell your DH that his son needs to share and that chair is off limits for the morning since he gets that chair the rest of the time. And if he doens like that his son wont get that chair for the morning then he can buy 4 more chairs.:)
Your Dh needs swift kick in his rear.
Everyone says you need to treat the kids equal? ok then, then SS6 has to share the chair with all the other kids in the house now. Instead of them being on the floor.
I personally would not get rid of the chair and i wouldn't buy 4 chairs either. I'ld make all the kids share it at specific times and that is just too bad and boohoo if any child doesn' want to share.
You know you said something that was interesting. You mentioned mine and Dh and i would do this alot and then i began saying ours or i would describe the object instead of giving it ownership.
Our taxes are separate and we do what we want with the money but if he ever needed help i would help my husband.
As for splitting the cash in your situation..i guess he does it out of fairness. BUt how about get stuff for the house first and then split the rest up?

    Bookmark   March 1, 2009 at 9:06AM
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I think that maybe you subconciously give preferential treatment to your son over your SS and he senses it. His behavior is manipulatuive because he senses what is going on. I do not believe your DS needs to have some kind of special chair (unless it has to do something wiht disability or that chair is in a his bedroom). And maybe watching TV in the morning is not such a great idea as it overstimulates children before school (for either children).

I also think it is common for siblings to fight, I and my brother fought very bad until about age 15 (still laugh about it).

    Bookmark   March 1, 2009 at 12:38PM
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DH did know that I did not like what went on with the tax return. He put his foot down about it though and I really had no choice but to split it. I had to fight with him to get him to use some of the money to buy a new toilet and tires for my car before we split it. That did not go over well at all - we fought about that for a week. He realized he was wrong about that and we ended up getting that stuff first, then we split the rest. I still think we should have gotten 3 more chairs with it but he didn't want to (he already had his half all spent) so therein lies my issue with the chairs. It's so messed up because I think they should all have the same chair. I want to use some of my money to buy another chair but I can't buy 3 more - they are just too expensive. So, because he won't chip in for 2 more chairs (he can't b/c he's spent all his money already), then I can't buy another one b/c then it wouldn't be fair (and it's already unfair b/c there's only 1 chair and we need 4).

I'm glad to see that others see my POV on this. I really don't dislike my Skids - I just see their behavior for what it is a lot of times. I know it's normal for the bioparent to not see certain things. DH points things out to me all the time when my two do things that normally wouldn't bother me BUT, I'm a lot more strict than DH by nature (I'm like this even with my own two) so it's more a liberal versus strict parenting style difference.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2009 at 4:45PM
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sounds like your problem is your husband!

Whatever is going on with the children, this guy is supposed to be *your* partner, & he should have supported you in front of the kids.

& wanting his 'half' ("putting his foot down"???) of a tax refund to buy playthings when your home needed a toilet???

That sounds like a genuine, tantrum-throwing brat (I was married to one).

& add my name to Organic Maria's post.

I wish you the best.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2009 at 5:21PM
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The messed up thing with the toilet is that he claimed that the one that we had was working just fine. Our house was built in the 50s, not sure if that toilet has ever been replaced - honestly! It wouldn't flush right (and we have 4 little kids so it NEEDS to flush right or else we have stuff sitting in the toilet for hours on end), it didn't hold enough water in the bowl properly so it would smell all the time, it wasn't sealed properly so it had ants crawling out from it (I know, GROSS! And no matter how much caulk I put down, it didn't matter!!), it also used to run all the time. The plumber that came in to replace it said it was one of the worst he's seen in awhile. DH still maintains that the toilet flushed and it was fine. He still thinks it was a waste of $150 to get the new one.


I'm sorry - I'm venting now and I go to my counselor tomorrow so hopefully she can listen to me and I won't have to dump it all on you guys. I just feel so alone lately. You are right sylvia - I don't have a husband. I don't know what I have anymore. I'm just so sad..

    Bookmark   March 1, 2009 at 11:02PM
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Its honestly sounds like your husband is the 5th child here and is not stepping up to the plate. Does he help with family chores in the house?
My husband washes the clothes or cleans the dishes everyone once and a while and he cooks alot...thank God!
He's come a long way and he's pulling his weight more so than 3 years ago and he sees what tactics his kids do. My stepmom said i'm lucky he stands by my side 90% of the time and that he has a back bone. Dotn get me wrong...we still fight and someof the stuff we fight about are his kids but we both have our say regardless.
I still dont like how he behaved with the tax money. I'm glad you bought some house things first...that was the right thing to do. As for his play stuff..he can safe a bit over the year and buy things for his computer and other toys of his. geeez... What kind of example does he set for his kids if he behaves like this?

    Bookmark   March 2, 2009 at 8:58AM
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