When is it time to give-up on step parenting?

utelltexJune 13, 2010

I have lived with my partner and his no 15 year old stepson for the last 5 years. His BM is a narcissist and an alcoholic, actively, although she no longer drinks around my SS. When I moved in, I knew the BM was a little off, but I had no idea how little my partner intervened on his son's behalf. In short, I insisted on rules, like no drinking around SS or like or not, I would do something about it for real. I also insisted on giving my SS household chores and duties; like penalites for not doing homework as well as rewards for doing well in school and around the house. It was a torturous labor, but has paid off in many ways. My SS is now doing well at home and in school and has developed far more social skills than he had when I first met him.

However, this year we moved to a new house...I had moved in with them into a place they had lived for 8 years, and slowly things have begun to change. My SS and I were pretty close for most of the last 5 years, until now. Recently, his BD has spent way more time with him than he ever has in the past and they have grown quite close. I used to pray my partner would do this with his son, and he has.

My SS is also now getting a long, more or less, with his BM, whom he talks to frequently but seldom sees. This after making clear to her that he would cut things off with her entirely if she didn't stop trying to manipulate him. I never bad mouthed her, even though I made it clear to him that I was here to support him, period, no matter what.

Interestingly, he talked to me about her confidentially before he ever talked to his dad about his feelings.

Anyway, lately my SS all but completely ignores me when his dad his home. And by ignore, I mean ignore. Its weird. I ask him if there is something he is upset with me about, the answer is always no. When dad is not home, he does not ignore me, when he is, I don't exist.

I feel hurt and fustrated beyond belief. Unfortunately, my partner,his BD, loves to avoid confrontation. He does not see anything he can do to assist and seriously, he never has when problems have come up before. I feel like I walked in 5 years ago and was immediately left with the decision to parent my SS essentially alone or walk-out. I stayed and now I wonder if it was worth it.

My partner sees what's going on, but has not talked to my SS about it. He doesn't "know how to fix it" which is pretty much what he has always done if I did ask for help like enforcing household rules we all agreed upon, etc.

Ironically, my partner has changed a lot in terms of taking on responsibility for his son himself, and our intimate relationship which has suffered, is in some ways better than it ever was.

But the roller coaster ride I am on with the SS is breaking my heart.

I don't know what happened to cause his remoteness and he will not even admit anything is wrong.

Is it time to leave and just admit I do not have the emotional stamina for this? When do you say "uncle?"

I feel like I have never had the kind of support I needed from my partner to make step parent thing work, that we never really presented a union together in our dealings with him, (BD was the good cop, I being the bad cop) and in spite of our tough beginnings, I thought my SS and I had a close relationship and now I am just clueless.

The other night, we went to dinner and BD and SS engaged in exclusive conversation with each other while me and SS' godfather sat sort of awkwardly next to them wondering what we were doing there. My partner does not see that he could be doing something through his behaviour to change, encourage this rude behaviour to stop, but instead, he indulges it.

I am beginning to think I must be a masochist or a martyr for ever signing up for this ride.

Any advice welcome.

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I am so sorry for the pain you're going through --
But (and this may not help) it doesn't sound all that unusual for 15-year old boys...

That's a notoriously difficult age for boys. Difficult for them, with all of the hormones hitting, the physical awkwardness, emerging sexuality, social issues, budding manhood, need for privacy to sort things through, inability to process feelings verbally... And difficult for parents because they really want to help, but the kids absolutely can not let them in at that particular stage. They're separating from their parents -- trying to stop being 'children', but absolutely clueless about how to be 'adults'. Unless they're one of those 'Teflon teens' who are always good-looking, well-coordinated and popular, they're probably desparately confused about their place in the world. Totally in-between...

Honestly, if all he's doing is shutting you out, please know that that is normal, even in intact families, and don't overthink it too much.

Once he is able to drive and spend more time outside the house, things will probably improve dramatically -- really. And by the time he's 18 or 19, he'll probably be really nice again.

I suspect Dad is really enjoying his new relationship with his son. Many men don't seem to know how to relate to young children, and his son's 'emerging manhood' may have been exactly the clue Dad was waiting for (but didn't know it) to recognize something he could bond with. I imagine he's feeling really important in his son's life -- like he finally IS the mentor and 'example' he was always supposed to be...

    Bookmark   June 13, 2010 at 2:40PM
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uteltex, I think it might be temporary and age related, agree with sweeby.

My DD22 is well adjusted and easy to get along, yet when she was 15 I wanted to run away from home, she was rude and obnoxious always angry with me yet perfectly fine with her father, it well went way at about 17-18. and she was fine since.

i hope it is just tough age...give it time but don't hesitate to tell him that you feel hurt when he ignores you, they need to know when they hurt people.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2010 at 3:18PM
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Thank you SO much for your really, really reassuring responses. It is unbelieveabley good to know that what is happening is not unusual and probably not even personal.
I will take your words to heart and read them every time I need to. Thank you!!!

    Bookmark   June 14, 2010 at 3:23AM
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I don't know that much about raising teenagers but to me it sounds encouraging that he still talks to you when Dad is not around. I do know that almost all teenagers seem to acts nuts in some way or other! And then thankfully they all seem to return to normal in a few years.

Maybe now that hormones are in full force he feels uncomfortable talking to Dad's wife in front of Dad or something? Or he's trying to show that he's no longer a child (more attached to SM) and he's now a "man" (being more attached to Dad)?

Don't give up now! You'll want to be there in a few years when the madness is all over and you have a fine, upstanding young man for a SS. My SS17 went through some major mood swings and bad behaviors at times in the last few years. DH was distraught and kept saying "But he was never like this - he used to be such a good kid!" I kept saying that since he was a good kid he'd probably emerge from the other side of adolescence as a good young man, and that is what is starting to happen now.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2010 at 11:25AM
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Expect nothing then nothing will hurt you and/or your feeling. Enlightenment is when we not make others perfect, but we only seek their perfection for what they are.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2010 at 12:38AM
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