My step sons are so negative and one of them might turn violent

juantnsoup2007May 13, 2009

Ive been married for a little over 3 years. My wife and I still live in 2 homes. We never consolidated our homes because we live 70 miles apart her in S. Cal. and because the housing boom over the last few years made it impossible to buy a home together. We spend all weekends together and some days during the week. Lots of driving and lots of effort. We are now looking for a home together but I have many, many reservations.

I have an 11 year old daughter from a past relationship and my wife has a 9 year old adopted daughter, 14 year old boy, and a 16 year old boy from her past marriage. One of her sons died over 10 years ago from SIDS. Her 16 year old son was very close to his brother. Hes never really gotten over the death. The 16 year old is also very small for his age. Hes maybe 4'-10' or even smaller and maybe is 50-60 lbs. Hes still very angry and sad over his brothers death, still angry over his mom and dads divorce, mad cause hes short, and finally he hates his sister because she was adopted right after his brother died. And now he hates me simply because Im there and I dont take any BS from any kids. I love them and do my part, but, Im very upfront and expect certain standards of behavior and respect.

Since the day I met his mom and her kids weve had to deal with angry outburts from her 16 year old, constant lying from the 2 boys, never wanting to help with chores, a total of lack of respect for their own mother, etc Her 16 year old needs to dominate every aspect of our lifes and if everyone doesnt basically bow down to him, he really gets mad and all hell breaks loose. His dad is finally starting to see what his mom has been begging him to acknowledge. Because of this ongoing situation his 14 year old brother is now this non-social very scared of everthing sorta kid and he to is now a bully to anyone he considers weaker than him and just a total pain to be around. Together and individually they are both very negative and hateful towards almost everything. They constantly bully their 9 year old sister and have even tried to do the same to my daughter. I of course have warned them to not go there with my daughter and for the most part they leave her alone. My daughter feels the need to help defend her step sister and is sick of watching them verbally and even sometimes physically abuse her. Ive even threatened to call the cops to have a talk with them if they continue to put their hands on their sister.

Now the sadness has really turned into real anger and we are faced with the real possiblity of violence. The 16 year old is starting to talk about wanting to kill his family, wanting us all dead, etc...We cant go anywhere with him unless he gets his way and he can speak to any of us in anyway he wants to. Over the last year or so I had to give my wife the ultimatum to either help fix this problem or if she continues to tolerate his behavior and doesnt get him help, I have to leave her and move on. I have to give her kudos and say she is making real strides, is waking up and facing the problem head on. In the recent past my wife had the tendency to want to defend her sons (mostly the 16 year old)actions by trying to convince me my daugters behavior is no different in many ways and is still very threatened by me and my daughters relationship. These are all defense mechanisms because of what shes faced with. She is really working on having a better relationship with my daughter and realizes that they all need help. Without kids my wife and I are best friends and all is perfect. Even with just the girls we get along great and she and my daughter have a healthy relationship. They are still working on it, but its getting there. If it was just the 4 of us our lifes would truly be drama free. She trys to remind my daughter that she loves her and trys to remember her when she shops, etc.. I am. What can I do? Im now considering keeping my daughter away from her sons because of the threats, the constant negativity, the bullying, etc..Ive even considered a divorce. Now I have to live my life around her sons once again dominating our lifes over and over again. Because im the step dad I can only do and say so much and their dad is to busy being in denial to really do anything. He sorta trys, but not really. My daughter cant stand her sons and doesnt want to be around them. How can I blame her?

My wife is working on getting therapy for herself and claims she will be seeking the same for both her sons. Unless her 16 year gets the help he needs he is nothing more than a ticking time bomb.

My daughter and I talk about how we love her sons and our family but how we are at the point where something has to give or else I will have to decide to move on. We do not want to live with them full time. At least not now. I dont think we could handle it at all. How could we?

Any thoughts? I could sure use some!

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"My wife is working on getting therapy for herself and claims she will be seeking the same for both her sons."

Well, there's your problem & your answer, all in one nutshell.

She's "working on" getting therapy for herself & claims she "will be" seeking the same for "the boys".

which means...

She isn't doing anything.

& she's using herself & her younger son to insulate the older one, & she's ignoring her daughter's vulnerability.

Keep your daughter safe.

I'm sorry.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2009 at 4:51PM
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You say you've threatened to call the cops if they physically hurt their sister... it sounds like you may have to do more than threaten if it ever happens again. Physical abuse is a crime, and I don't think you have to be 18 to be accountable. There is a very clear line of what can and can't be condoned, talked through or otherwise worked out and physical abuse is over that line. The boys need to know very plainly and in no uncertain terms that if they hurt the girls or anyone else, they will be picked up by the cops.

As for the other stuff (lying, refusing to do chores), well, obviously that's harder to deal with because it's more vague. But I think it's safe to say that in most human dealings, the best way to influence or improve somebody's behavior is to make it real unpleasant for them to continue what they're doing... to make it in their interest to change their behavior. And let them know the deal so there is no surprise or uncertainty so that if they choose to misbehave they have no one to blame for the repercussions they suffer but themselves. It may not prove a foolproof method, but I'd guess it's worth a try. Like for example: "Dude, you are NOT going to like what happens if I hear you call your sister a bad name again, because you're not going to like scrubbing the floor with a toothbrush and vinegar at 5:00 in the morning. Your choice." Or: "yeah I know you don't really feel like doing the dishes. And I don't really feel like cooking you dinner or paying for your phone either. If you back out on your promises and contributions to the family, I guess others in the family have a right to back out on their promises and contributions to you. It's much better for all of us if we all pitch in and do things to help each other out. But again, your choice." You as the step-parent who isn't even living full-time with the step-kids REALLY don't have to do anything for them. Their mom obviously has to provide a basic decent level of care and make sure there's food in the house for them to eat, etc. But at their age she doesn't have to cook it! There are plenty of "extra" things you and she can leverage and refuse to do for them until they learn to behave decently, without running the risk of being negligent parents.

In the meantime, though, do proceed with family counseling. Even though the boys' behavior desperately needs changing, it sounds like there are some genuine adjustment problems and anger issues that need to be addressed. Especially with the older boy, who sadly sounds like he has had a lot in his life to be angry about. He just can't be allowed to continue expressing it in the ways that he has been.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2009 at 5:28PM
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Do you know if the 16 year old has had a thorough medical workup and developmental assessment? Because even if you're exaggerating about his size, he sounds much too small to be medically typical. (I say that as a parent of a child with 'short stature' in the medical sense. There is such a thing, with many possible causes, many of which can affect behavior.)

Definitely protect you own daughter at all costs, and do what you can to protect her younger daughter while ASSURING she gets counseling for herself and her older sons. And if she hasn't had a serious medical workup on the older boy that explains his small size, that needs to be a priority as well.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2009 at 6:41PM
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I would not rush into living together full time. Hold off until your wife does actually get help for her son AND her poor adopted daughter...does she realize they abuse her or does she turn a blind eye to that?
I would protect your daughter from the boys. Sorry....sounds too volatile for my taste.
THe 16 year old needs alot of anger management..and yah..sweeby has a veyr good point...4'10 at age 16??? sounds like a hormonal imblance...maybe contributing to his emotional outbursts.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2009 at 6:56PM
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Thank you for the postings. My wife is currently in therapy with her older son. Her older son told the therapist he does have these feelings of wanting to hurt himself and others. They told her to take him to a psyh ward and get him evaluated. He got scared and recanted his "story" but only after many many hours of talking to doctors, driving for 2 hrs to San Diego to the hopsital and minutes before being taken away for a few days. His dad got very angry at my wife because she understands the urgency and he claims there isnt one. He refused to let him stay in the hopsital for an evaluation. My wife is currently seeking council and is now willing to do anything to not only help save her son from himself, but also saves others (especially the girls) from him as well. I wont allow him anywhere around my daughter, period. Recently he told his mom to "f" off and then ran away. She had to call the cops, the ex husband got involved. A perfect "Cops" episode for sure. Instead of the dad being angry and wanting to get involved and help my wife, he blamed it all on her again. The dad is sure this is moms fault and continues to insist nothing is really wrong other than the son being a rebelious teenager. Luckily my wife realizes this is the breaking point and he has to go to therapy 1x per week and she isnt afraid to call the cops anymore, and will not allow him around the other kids because of the obvious safety issues. So...we are all moving forward and at the same time having to keep our distance. Other than the older son, everyone seems to feel like life can progress in a safer, healthier, way without having to feel dominated or threatened by the old son. They are of course sad that his has to happen, but relieved they can at last live their lives. And yes...he is maybe 4-10 and is 16. They have tried everything (including shots) to help him grow. Nothing seems to work. His anger is deep and very very personal. It really has the forshadowing of horrible things if he isnt helped pronto.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2009 at 4:13PM
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Juantnsoup -- I'm sorry things haven't improved more, but glad you came back to give an update.

You say he has been to Dr to help him grow -- Has he been through puberty yet? Starting? Done with? Any wrist and foot X-rays done?

(For those who are wondering, wrist and foot X-rays are done to see if the bones at the ends of the growth plates have fused.)

    Bookmark   June 2, 2009 at 4:41PM
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50 - 60 lbs at age 16? What is his diagnosis?

    Bookmark   June 2, 2009 at 8:09PM
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I'm sorry, that may be unfair to ask. I should have just seconded Sweeby's statement that this boy needs a complete work-up if one hasn't been done.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2009 at 8:20PM
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"One of her sons died over 10 years ago from SIDS. Her 16 year old son was very close to his brother. Hes never really gotten over the death."

At what age does SIDS typically occur? Wouldn't the child have been quite young?

    Bookmark   June 2, 2009 at 10:36PM
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