teenage stepkids driving me over the edge

norespect4meSeptember 14, 2012

I've beeen reading blogs and doing stepfamily seraches on the internet for years. I've gone to counselling. I've vented to girlfriends. I have bought and read the books on step-parenting. I have 3 kids of my own, who are in their early 20's and adore their stepdad and are all living independently, working and in university. My husband has 4 sons between the ages of 14 and 21. The two middle children (17 and 19) will be the death of this relationship. It's been 8 years of tears, frustration, ultimatums, but nothing ever changes. Now, when they pull stunts, their dad talks to them and they deny, deny, deny. Even when there is no other plausible excuse, his response is "what can I do? they say they didn't do it". So the lesson learned for these kids? Just lie. In fairness, they've learned from the master: their mom. They don't live with us ( we wouldn't last a week if they did). And now I have told my husband that given their disrespect and constant lies, and their overall toxic behaviour, I don't want them in my house. This has caused a lot of tension between he and I but I am not prepared to walk around on eggshells in my home with kids who treat me like this. He can take them out for dinner, or do whatever, but not while I am home, under my roof. This is half my house. He is quick to tell me he loves me yet he lets his kids call me psycholady with no consequences. I am worn right down, sad, but just coasting until I can figure my way out. He is a great man on so many levels but he is so petrified of losing his kids that he continually caves in. neither he nor his ex can parent to save their lives. The kids are spoiled, and run the house. The question is: do I tough it out another few years until they finally grow up, or will it never really change even when they're adults? He doesn't want to let go and seems petrified by my very quiet demeanour of late...but not enough to ask me the questions that will lead to the big discussion. The second the topic comes up, the arguments ensue and all hell breaks loose. Can't believe this is my life... Advice?

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You didn't say how old you were or if you are financially able to support yourself and whose house you are living in. He will probably never change, so I would sue for divorce with eviction papers for him to leave. If you leave first you can be accused of abandoning him and the home. If the man really loves you that may make him realize how much he loves you and he may change and if he doesn't you really don't want to spend the rest of your life in this situation. You can always dismiss the divorce if you change your mind. I decided I would live in a one room apartment before I would put up with the ex and 3 steps.

Been there done that, but mine was heaven compared to yours. Things did improve for me, my husband learned that I did not lie and he trusted me completely. If I said they did something he believed me. But in spite of his love for me, I did eventually put my foot down and told him I would never be in the same room with his kids again. I would go shopping or what ever. I took all the pictures down and stored them. I also moved our money to a new account with my name on it with him as beneficiary. If I had it to do over again I am not sure I would have stayed with him.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2012 at 7:13PM
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I generally like these forums, but it always seems like so many people's first advice is always to "leave"....she clearly loves this guy, and the kids are not 7 and 9, the youngest is 17....don't you think it might be worth trying to make things better? It's not like he's cheating on her or beating her or anything. Clearly they have not tried all avenues to work on this.

"I would sue for divorce with eviction papers for him to leave."

Just curious as to how she would have legal grounds for this when apparently they own the house 50/50? Seems to me if they own the house jointly, and she is the unhappy one, then she should be the one to move out and the finances will be taken care of in the divorce settlement, whether the house has to be sold, or he can buy her out, etc.

So many here are always so quick to kick the man to the curb...unreal.

This is not the case of a guy who was running around on his wife, abusing her, etc. Just a case of a man who clearly needs to learn how to parent better. I do understand where he is coming from in one aspect. I am divorced and my ex and I share custody of the kids (girl 14 boy 11), 50-50. My son is a good kid, but my daughter has some pretty severe social anxieties and has put us through the wringers the last couple years. My ex and I are not exactly on the same page when it comes to discipline and punishments, and when she does bad stuff, she is far more lenient and forgiving than I am as a parent. Given the situation we are in, where we basically leave it to the kids to decide where they want to stay on a daily basis (we both own homes in the same town), if I were to come down with a punishment for her and I couldn't get my ex wife to agree to enforce it at her house, I am sh*t out of luck, not only will the punishment not be enforced, but I'll wind up not having my daughter stay with me for weeks at a time until it all blows over, this has happened a few times and it sucks.

Being that the OP's husband's ex sounds like she is a total enabler with the kid's bad behaviors, I would imagine that he is afraid of what would happen if he starts to come down on them for their actions...they'd probably never come around. Which I understand would be fine for the OP, but as a divorced dad, if I only saw my kids every other weekend or something, I can understand how this guy might be letting his fear of losing all contact with the boys cloud his judgement.

Not excusing it or anything...clearly its a problem and has to be addressed one way or another, just trying to show where his mind might be.

Good luck I hope things improve.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2012 at 9:34AM
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You sound like my Mother, "he is not cheating on you, beating you or an alcoholic". For her that was enough, for me it is not. I don't want to "settle for", I want a man who respects me and my feelings. Regardless of who leaves, she is not happy and never will be with this man. If she does what I said, he may realize how much she means to him and change his attitude.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2012 at 9:59AM
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--"If she does what I said, he may realize how much she means to him and change his attitude."--

So the idea for you would be to force 'pick me or them'? Meh, might work, might not but I'm not 'into' trying to manipulate getting my own way at the expense of what could/would cost someone else dearly.

These are not little children the OP is posting. In fact one is already of adult age and the other is a spit away. I frankly find it childish to carry the noncompromising attitude of 'your kids (aka adult and almost adult) are banned from the house forever and ever more'.

For pete's sake, how often does the 19 yr old even visit? I'd think one of this age would be working,advancing education and doing age level social actitivies. If the motivation is not present, I'd think both parents have failed to install (not just one or the other).

Even when the 'kids' are finally grown and out of either home, you're fooling yourself if a 'either/or' attempt is going to go well.

I'd assume the OP is mature enough to 'share' her home for a few ho9urs here and there. Yes, Dad can visit 'kids' elsewhere and can usher them to eat out...but here hangs, why can not OP occassionaly be grown -up about a mutual dislike and also find somewhere else to be (a movie, shopping, walk in the outdoors)...why must Dad entirely ban the children from a home he owns half of on a forever basis just to give a noncompromising mate the 'tude' of 'my way or the highway'?

If the marriage is solid except for the kid issue, the 'kids' are well on their way to being of age or there, the kids DO NOT LIVE WITH YOU, why force the thought of 'get those d*mn brats out of MY HOME'. Compromise and work out a solution that works for the father too.

I will also assume here that there is a valid reason (at least in their opinions) the 'kids' call OP "psycholady". For whatever the reason is, there has obviously been some very bad times between all parties (justified or not)and just as OP plans to 'lay down the line to husband' these 'kids' will be forced into 'laying their own line' and there stands Daddy/husband having to choose all in the name of 'I own half this house'. Yeah, that great plan, only not.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2012 at 10:36AM
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No one can tell you what is right for you. Only you in your heart knows what you want. Do you love your husband enough? to as you say tough it out for a few more years and see if his kids grow up? Or do you not feel like you can not live like this any longer..? Its about choices and this is up to you to choose. Their not in your home ever so you no longer are dealing with them for the most part.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2012 at 11:41AM
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Of course it is her choice but she asked for advice and I gave her some based on my life experience and from reading in this forum for a few years. Kids like this never grow up if they get away with behavior like this now, they will continue this behavior forever because they get away with it.

Norespect please keep me informed of your decision, you can email me through this site. I will be thinking of you and I wish you the best.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2012 at 3:58PM
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Norespect, wanted to add I kept a journal through out my 33 years of marriage. After my husband died, I destroyed it, I wanted to put it behind me. When I think of you I wish I had kept it to send to you. It would show you what you are in for if you stay. The sad part of all of this is anyone you meet will probably have children and that relationship will be the same.I think guys are afraid their children will not love them if they stand up to them.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2012 at 7:33PM
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Emma, of course she is entitled to her happiness, and my point was not that since he was not "cheating on or abusing" her, that she should be satisfied with that. That's the thought process of a couple generations ago.

My point was that since she said she truly loved this guy, he seems to be a decent man in other aspects of life, and the problem lies not as much in their relationship with each other, but with the man's inability to control his kids behavior, that I think it's a little short-sighted to toss the towel in on the marriage before really trying to attack the root cause of the problem. Clearly there is something worth saving here...

I guess I just threw that phrase in there because we all know of people who "love" their spouse despite the fact that they may treat them like a piece of crap....I am not seeing this here. If that were the case, sure I would agree and tell her to get out.

Still not understanding your comment on "evicting" him from his own house though....

    Bookmark   September 16, 2012 at 7:19AM
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Emma, I've read some of your posts from other threads. I mean no offense, and please don't take it in a 'bad' way, but I'm not sure sharing your journals and/or advising that all stepfamilies do and will go the way your's did is particularly advice you should be advocating as 'all relationships and situations of stepfamilies will be the same' present and/or future.

I get that you've had a rough road. But I also picked up on that your own bio children gave you a very hard time. In one post you call your own sons worthless and go on to example how they took great advantage of your generousity. Were ungrateful and unappreciative. It also sounded as if you and your husband went out of your way to be supportive of all the children and give give give (read=enabled)until the dad/you shut them all down and off. At one point you wrote you wish you had never had children. And even now with your husband deceased you have no relationship with your own bio-children.

I'm not sure your experiences with these five children (your husband's 3 and your 2) are a simple case of 'because we were a stepfamily'. Or do you mean that your own two sons would have turned out differently had they not been in a stepfamily situation? I'm just curious as the OP here states her own children are respecting productive functional adults and her issue lays with her husband's children and her husband's manner in expectations (lack of) and handling of them when they are disrepectful in the OP/his home.

You've concluded in this thread " I think guys are afraid their children will not love them if they stand up to them", yet I read how it sounds your own children got away with an awful lot until one day (perhaps too late) you finally had had your fill and are now estranged from even your own children.

    Bookmark   September 16, 2012 at 7:48AM
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There are two issues here: Her husband not standing up to his kids in support of his wife. I don't believe that is going to happen. I believe the the only chance she has of that happening is if he is separated from her and their home so he will know she is no longer going to put up with the way they treat her. He has a choice to make.

The other issue is my sons. I should not have brought them into the discussion and I agree being in an extended family had nothing to do with the way they turned out. They had a good home, a clean home, a home that was a haven when things were difficult else where. We were there for them, we set good examples. No matter what kind of parents we are we cannot not change who our children are.

I could give you all kinds of example of that, but will just give you one. I know a young man who's step father abused him physically. He broke his arm over his knee like you would a piece of wood and yet that young man over came it all. The young man grew up to be a good father, a good person because that was born a good person and no one could change that.

    Bookmark   September 16, 2012 at 9:45AM
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--". I am worn right down, sad, but just coasting until I can figure my way out."--

With this said by OP, why then is it husband, Emma, you view should be making the 'choice' and being kicked from the house until and/or unless he 'chooses' the answer the suits the OP? OP states house is 1/2 hers. Guess that means the other 1/2 is his. OP does not want 'kids' in her home. She only has rights to half of it if jointly owned. While husband gives lip service to being 'unhappy' over the situation of the 'kids' his solution is to shrug his shoulders and announce "what can I do" aka he's obviously not seeing his children's behavior as near the problem OP is. (I'm not saying their behavior is not that bad, I'm saying the husband does not see it as as large a problem in his 1/2 the home as OP does)

So if the solution, in your opinion, is to take a stand and try and 'make' husband see things her way, then why not OP just pack her bags and rent an apartment. Seems to me that would make a pretty big statement that she does not intend to carry on her life in this house in the matter that it currently is. That she is not ok with the behavior nor her husband's seemingly approval of it. That she expects the people and visitors to be civil and act civil while in the home and will not come back unless she sees there is an attempt in all parties to change things.

I guess I don't understand why you feel OP should make a power grab, cease the house for herself and have her husband literally forced out. Her children are grown and gone. She does not have to be married to this man and she does not have to ever see these kids again. She has the 'power' to make that choice. His children don't live in the home at all. It's 1/2 his house. Why do you think this woman has any more legal rights to the actual property (evicting the guy because she does not like his children lie, children that do not even see them often) than the husband does? I would think such an act (the power grab) would prove itself to be quite a domineering control type personality action. Legally I'd think she'd have to jointly sell the home to gain 1/2 the value of the house...she can't just kick the guy out and snag it because children she dislikes that don't even live there are 'putting her over the edge'.

If she were to be merely trying a manipulative ultimation stand and hoping husband 'sees the light' and wants to keep his relationship with OP, as you suggest, I'd think the hostility of an eviction attempt would rock this marriage wide open. Which I think is what Mkroopy is trying to say. This couple has a somewhat solid relationship except on the occassional times his children visit. If they can work out a doable solution workable for both OP and her husband they have a better chance of surviving as a couple if that is what they both want.

    Bookmark   September 16, 2012 at 11:11AM
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Justmetoo, she asked for advice and I gave it and I gave it to her not you. For your information I loved my husband just like she loves hers. The same action that I recommended to her....saved my marriage. I kicked him out. He was begging to come back after 2 weeks. It took that separation to make him realize I was more important to him than he thought and that I was not going to put up with the stuff I had been living with. When he moved back in 90% of the problems disappeared.

I did see a lawyer after he left and was told the one whoever leaves could be charged with abandonment and could loose any share of the home. It didn't matter to me because we turned my home into a rental and it would have been there for me.

    Bookmark   September 16, 2012 at 5:07PM
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So then, you feel it's perfectly acceptable to kick a husband/wife... the other 1/2 owner... for your own total benefit? The problem with your plan is that she stated no legal reason to be able to evict her husband merely because she may not want him there (while she plays 'pick me, pick me').

Actually as long as your mate mutually agrees to short break where both continue to pay expenses (mortgage, taxes, ect just as if one was on a extended business trip) while they temporarily review their differences there is no abandonment of real estate.

If your husband did not 'abuse' (you stated no abuse, cheating and/or drugs/alochol in your case) how did you serve your husband with legal eviction papers if not by blatantly attempting a selfish power grab? Disliking children who 'pull stunts' and 'lie' or call names(the examples in original post of OP) is not reason to siege another's right to property.

    Bookmark   September 16, 2012 at 6:01PM
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For you to be so upset about this, someone must have done that to you or someone you love, you are out of control. You pick at things I say and twist them to suit you and your way of thinking. I did NOT file for divorce, no where did I say that and I did not sue to have him evicted and I didn't say that. I just told him to get out and he went. In this state if someone files for a divorce someone has to leave until a judge can decide???? You can't expect them to live in such a hostile environment. Alawyer told me the one that files for a divorce can ask for an eviction notice. In cases where there are no children or the children are grown with both people working the home usually has to be sold or one has to buy out the other. The judge will decide the outcome. I won't reply to this again, there is no reasoning with you. You have serious problems regarding this subject.

    Bookmark   September 16, 2012 at 7:08PM
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--" so I would sue for divorce with eviction papers for him to leave. If you leave first you can be accused of abandoning him and the home."--

--"The same action that I recommended to her....saved my marriage. I kicked him out."--

So ignore me, makes no difference to me. But exactly where did I twist your words?

You don't have to agree with anything I think and/or say. That's what OPINIONS are all about. We all have them. You, I and anyone who cares to post.

Obviously you and I are taking the Op's original post more serious than OP herself and she appears to be ignoring anything either one of us (or others) who have replied to her.

For someone to state "He will probably never change, so I would sue for divorce with eviction papers for him to leave" is pretty strong OPINION from someone handing out advice based solely on the actual words from the OP in her original post. My OPINION. You don't have to like it or agree if it. Nor do you have to respond to someone who choses to question your extreme advice. It's how message boards work. You find her case hopeless and advise drastic manipulation attempts. I find her case likely salvageable and compromise fixable if her first steps are not to a divorce lawyer with eviction notices. Hmmmm, I wonder what OP would do if Monday she went off to work and a server came in with divorce and eviction papers and handed them to her via her husband serving her demanding she leave and he was divorcing her?

Good evening to you.

    Bookmark   September 16, 2012 at 8:02PM
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jmt - thanks for having my back..lol!

"For you to be so upset about this, someone must have done that to you or someone you love, you are out of control"

Emma I had the same opinion, before JMT even mentioned it, and nothing like that ever happened to me either...I think neither of us are out of control, we just thought your suggestion was a little out in left field.

    Bookmark   September 17, 2012 at 9:43AM
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Maybe the OP can share some examples of what the teens are doing that is driving her over the edge? I only ask because in our blended family, stepdad goes completely overboard on things that I consider minor. After all, they are teens.

Also, like a pp mentioned, how much time are the kids spending at your house anyways? You said the 17 & 19 would be the death of the relationship but I'm wondering why kids this age are even doing any type of extended visits for the weekends at all?

    Bookmark   September 17, 2012 at 11:21AM
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I think encouraging Dad to have his visits away from the home is a good thing. One it will let him know in no uncertain terms that you have had enough of him allowing bad behaviour towards you and two it will give you distance from the hurt.

We did this in our situation because DH was unable to draw firm boundaries with his teens.

A couple of visits away from home (in a hotel) and hooray DH was finally able to find his backbone with them. (I think it was in his wallet)

That was over a year ago.

Now we have visits where the teens are expected to be civil towards me, expected to acknowledge me and we all get along a lot better.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2013 at 4:29AM
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Professional family counseling. That is my suggestion.

Maybe I am old fashioned for a young person (I am in my 40's, life begins at 40!!) but ending a marriage should be the last resort. This is a fixable problem, with professionals. You have proven you all cannot do it on your own, something needs to change or these boys will grow up to me disfunctional adults.

I got anxiety reading the above posts. What works for one family may not work for others, oh the beauty of public forums. I wonder if there are any happy, successfully blended families out there that could share their strategies with all of us that are struggling so.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2013 at 9:37AM
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It sounds like you are in a terrible situation. If the 17 and 19 year olds are behaving so badly, is the 14 year old soon to follow? And does your husband really think he is helping his kids by letting them get away with bad behavior?

It has been a foundational belief of mine that to have real love you have to have respect. Your husband's kids don't respect him if they treat both of you the way you describe. Kids like to push their parents buttons and see what happens. They are obviously very unhappy or else they wouldn't act the way they do. Encourage your husband to try and view his kids as an outsider would. Then ask him what he sees. Maybe by doing this he can see that he isn't helping them by the way he handles the situation. Even if the kids break off some contact with him, he would be showing them that he doesn't accept the bad behavior, and he needs to gain their respect to have any influence over them in the future. Ask him if he would respect someone who he could walk all over and get away with it. I sure wouldn't!

It sounds like you have invested substantial time and emotion into your relationship, and if you can stand it for a few more years, it would be worth it to try. Your husband has probably already lost the two middle kids if he keeps letting them get away with bad behavior. I think it is worth the risk for him to tell his kids to act right or he's not going to be around them. I would guess that their mom wouldn't want them around her all the time with their attitudes either, and they might get the message.

You might also remind your husband that he has a 14 year old who is watching how everyone is acting and reacting, and that he has a chance to save his youngest from going down the wrong path like the 17 and 19 year olds.

Good luck to you and your family.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2013 at 3:58PM
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I completely sympathize with the OP. My stepkids have serious mental health issues, and the result is a miserable and crazy environment.

I am ready to go it alone, mostly because I'm sick of being an adult with no control over the environment that I live in. If my husband had lived up ot his commitment to be a true partner to me, we could have worked together to maintain a stable homelife, and get some help for the kids. However, he was more interested in being a "buddy" than being a father and a husband, and his kids derailed. Now, I am fed up with an unhappy home, and I'm struggling with having lost trust and respect for my husband. That's a hard place to come back from.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2013 at 10:06PM
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Wow. This topic is really emotionally exhausting. I think that it is important for a mom/stepmom to pay attention to her body. This type of stress can do a great deal of physical damage to a woman's body and the thing about us, moms, is we don't really believe it until a great deal of damage has been done.

I think that Emma's advice comes from a place in her heart that knows that, after all that has been endured, one cannot just pick up and leave haphazardly. Thought is required so as not to be subjected to anymore undue stress, which btw won't be good for anyone, especially, her hubby if in a little time the two are able to work through these issues and continue to share the lives together.

Every situation is different, but when we have been down a similar road (with hindsight being 20/20) we have a natural desire to help others protect themselves and even hope that the family might then be able to benefit, as well.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2013 at 9:16PM
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norespect4me, would it be possible for your family to sit down for a family meeting. Make it kind of official with meeting notes that can be typed and reviewed by all. The kids are old enough to actively participate in this type of activity. Ask them questions. Give them time to respond. Listen to their answers. Listen to their concerns. Present you concerns and ask them questions about the fairness of the humiliation to which you feel you are subjected. Tell them that you aren't really sure how to handle it. Ask for their input. Put it in their court. BUT, don't make it a one-time-thing. Agree to meet every week or every other week for a period of 2 or three months to see what comes of it.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2013 at 9:44PM
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i have the same situation, sent me to hospital because i thought i was getting a heart attack, mean time it was too much stress causing me to suffer with an anxiety disorder , please dont waste more energy on these kids, just keep to yourself and do whats best for you and your kids, dont even talk to your husband about his kids, dont greet them if they dont greet you first with respect, if the treat you horrible just stand up and walk out, take your kids , say bey to your husband, and take your kids for a milkshake or some window shopping or something that keeps you positive, if your husband asks you what your story is then you tell him , you are sorry but you can not except the way his kids abuse you anymore, as painful as it is you would rather close the doors to his kids and move on with your life, as much as you love your husband , you are willing to let go of a happy family life with him and rather be alone happy then to be together unhappy. dont talk down to his kids at al , just let him know that they are treating you horrible and you will not stand for it anymore, so you will stay out of their way from now on....

    Bookmark   August 21, 2013 at 5:33AM
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