New Step Parent and Sibling

happymomof1November 23, 2009

I have been divorced for less then a year and my sons dad just got married this weekend to a lady thats good to my child but she has a 4 yr old son that seems to have issues. My son is 7 and he came home over the weekend with a black eye from the other child hitting him in the eye. They where scuffling and the child swung back and hit mine and my child swung back out of self defense. I contacted his father regarding this and he told me he saw the entire thing but did nothing to stop it. He chewed our child out for hitting but the other child didnt get in trouble it seems to me that his father is taking sides and it isnt his sons. This isnt the first time he also also come home with bite marks on him as well and telling me this child has hit him before. HE feels very left out because seems his father is spending more time with the new wife and her child then ours. I tried talking to my son about it but it doesnt seem to help and I also know talking to the ex wont help either have tried it before and he totally over looks it. He loves his father and is normally very excited about seeing him but he is suppose to go with him for the week of thanksgiving and hes telling me he doesnt want to go now which isnt like him at all. He seems moody and sad and I just dont know what to tell him. He also has ADHD which his father choses to not give him which might take part in comeing off and on it. Anyway any suggestions on what I can say to my child or explain things would be helpful. I have told him that we both love him very much.

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He's on medication & his dad takes him off it over the week-end?

It's been a long time ago, but when my ex's son was on Ritalin, the doctors recommended giving him a break from it on the week-ends, since Ritalin decreases the appetite & the little guy needed to eat & grow.

Every time I think nothing will surprise me, I get a surprise.

I wouldn't have thought of a father 'falling out of love' with his son & 'falling in love' with the son of a new partner.

However, whatever happens happens, & your job is to protect your little guy, physically first & emotionally as well.

If a father watches while another (new favorite) child hits his son...
"talking" isn't going to get anything changed.

Write down what has happened & get your attorney to send a certified letter to your ex & to his new wife stating that you won't stand for the two of them allowing *anyone* to assault your chld & that you'll take whatever measures you must to protect your son.

& find something else for the 2 of you to do on his dad's week-ends, 'cause I'm thinking he won't be spending them with his dad.

I'm so sorry.

    Bookmark   November 23, 2009 at 1:38PM
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I understand where you're coming from, but I'd urge you to watch and wait rather than jumping to your son's defense.

I'd suspect your son is feeling displaced and jealous -- and very reasonably! This new little 4 year old brat gets HIS Daddy all of the time! Plus he's younger, which means he's babied to some extent and isn't subjected to the same expectations. Could also be that new StepMom favors her own son (many do) and blames the ADHD 7 year old for letting things escalate to the point where hitting is involved. (Or that you son feels like she does, even if she's doing her best to be fair, kind and patient to all.) Your son's story makes it clear that there are some of these feelings involved. Could be, they color his interpretation of the facts so much that your conclusions aren't really accurate.

Guess what I'm saying is that it's *highly likely* that the account your 7 year old gave you is somewhat biased. It's probably a good view on how he perceives things -- just not unbiased when it comes to who did what when and why...

I'm concerned that if you assume that's exactly how it happened and immediately jump to his defense, you'll be setting up an adversarial position that will complicate things from here on out. And it could be that comisserating with your son, talking calmly to Dad (and LISTENING to Dad) then mediating with your son could help the two boys develop a better relationship down the road, which is really what's best for all concerned.

I can't tell you how many distorted stories I got from my son until his father and I (and eventually StepMom) were able to calmly compare notes...

You want your son to know you care, so don't ignore the problems he tells you about. But he should not get so much of a reaction from you that it encourages him to 'tattle' over every minor disagreement.

    Bookmark   November 23, 2009 at 5:46PM
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I agree with Sweeby that you should not jump the gun. What a child "sees and experiences" and what is actually going on can differ. I am sure that your son is a bit jealous that he does not live with his father anymore and this new kid does. I also know that 4 year olds can bite and hit, though it is more usual of a child younger than that.

Is it possible to sit down with your son, ex, and his new wife to discuss how your son feels? Let your ex know in advance that this is not about throwing blame around or making your son feel bad about how he is feeling. It is all about coming together to help him get through some bad feelings??

As for the meds you need to discuss that with your ex and your doctor and see what is best for your son.

    Bookmark   November 23, 2009 at 6:10PM
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Sweeby and the others said it very well.

As a MOM, I completely understand that innate desire to protect your own. My DD7 came home from school last week all sad because her "best friend" wasn't her best friend anymore. She said her friend would not let her play with her and a group of other girls at recess. AUUGHHH. It broke my heart. :( Today, however, everything is all a-ok again.

So--your situation is obviously more serious and your DS is dealing with some very real and serious issues; I'm not trying to compare what he's going through to playground spats. I just meant I understand that "mama bear" instinct.

The first thought I had is that this has all been very fast for your son. You and dad have been divorced for less than a year? And dad is already remarried? That's a lot for anyone to handle, let alone a 7 yr old.

Is he in any counseling? I think a sit-down with dad is definitely in order. Honestly, your son would be strange if he DIDN'T have any feelings/issues about all that's happened and all that's changed.

But I would also urge you to take it slow and wait and see how things unfold. The version you are getting from your son may not be accurate. Sure, it may be how HE perceives things to be, but kids' perception is often skewed, particularly when they are working through emotional issues.

My SS is 7 and my DD is also 7. We've been together since they were not even 2, and lived together since they were 4ish. But even NOW, after all this time, SS will go to his BM's house and say one thing. It's usually some unjust he feels---ie, Dad sent him to time-out and not DD, or DD didn't have to eat all her veggies, and he did. ETC. While there is usually a GRAIN of truth in what he says, he often, as kids do, will neglect to tell the whole story.

DD didn't have to finish her carrots because she ate her whole first helping and asked for seconds.

Dad told SS and DD to stop doing ________ and DD listened. SS continued to do whatever it was and THAT'S why he went to time-out.


I would proceed slowly and speak with your DH about what your son's been saying. Always keep a CLEAR line of communication with your ex and make sure your son knows that you two will talk regularly and freely. The more open you are with each other, the less likely it is that your son will manipulate the situation. I'm not saying for sure that's what's going on here....but it could be.

    Bookmark   November 23, 2009 at 7:39PM
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First, we all are sorry. Agree with Sylvai

1. Take pictures when child comes home. If you havent done so already, do so now, if possible. BTW, if teacher reports this, you dont want it on you. You dont have to make a big deal of it, just say gramma wants a pic of you in your sailor suit (you get the idea).

2. Call dad, and ask what is going on and what is he going to do to make certain child doesnt get blackeye again. Listen. If your state allows, record convo. Many states allow recording if one party allows. If you're not happy, tell him, and you want to think about and get back to him.

3. What does custody say about medicaal care. If you are primary physical custody, you ususally get more say on this.

4. After considering options, tell dad he either protects kid or you will take action.

5. The problem with not protecting your kid, is the black eye speaks for itself. No one else is.

With a 4 YO and 7 YO, its not the kids fault, its the parents when someone gets a black eye. I'ld be scared that if this happened in my house, next call would be from CPS.

    Bookmark   November 23, 2009 at 7:40PM
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Ditto Sweeby "but I'd urge you to watch and wait rather than jumping to your son's defense." However, I would start documenting now with pictures of injuries and emails to Dad. Make sure the emails are on the inquisitive side rather than accusatory though. The blackeye would have me extremely nervous though and I would want that documented that happened on Dads time.

If it continues without sufficient action from Dad to protect Son, I would go with KKNY's #4. There are a lot of things that Dad/SM can be doing with both children to prevent violence in their home, regardless of which child starts it. I also do not buy the excuse that children are children and then letting them get away with biting and hitting without actually getting off your bum and trying to do something to stop it. It may take Dad and SM separating the children during visitation but if they are not willing to do that to prevent violence then they really shouldn't be having so much free time with kiddo imo.

There was a girl in my DD's daycare when they were in the 3/4 class and she was violent. She hit kids, bit, spit in their faces etc. For about a two week period DD was coming home telling me that this girl was targeting her, I kept talking to the teachers and the director of the daycare...getting no where! They kept saying kids were kids, they do this..yadda yadda. And then it went to the girl is getting a diagnosis from doctors and there just isn't anything we can do about it! Ugh, I was so furious that girl should have been kicked out, her parents $200 a week wasn't worth dangering the rest of the children. The director acted like I had 3 heads the whole time and was just overreacting and acting like my kid was a special snowflake. Anyway, I found another daycare with different policies on violence (they would kick kids out for that behavior)...went to go pick DD up from daycare, that little girl CUT another kid with scissors right before I walked in. This kid came screaming out of their classroom with blood dripping down his arm, all over his shirt/pants and the floor, it was awful. The director just stood there in shock and I rushed over there to get him. I looked in DD's classroom and there was that little girl just standing there with the scissors in her hand smiling.

So anyway, don't ignore your instincts with this or let anyone try to brush it away that kids will be kids.

    Bookmark   November 24, 2009 at 1:15PM
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Nivea, wow. That is really disturbing.

When I taught JK, we had a little girl who had been adopted from Russia when she was 2.5 yrs old--she was 4/5 when I had her in my class. She was a biter and a pincher. ANYTIME, and I mean ANYTIME, she didn't get her way or got frustrated, she would bite or pinch. She bit kids in fights over toys, she pinched me, she pinched my assistant teacher, she bit kids when they crowded around her---whatever it was, the ONLY way this girl knew how to cope was to react violently.

It was certainly a learned behavior from the first two+ yrs of her life in an orphanage. I remember sitting with mom at a conference and putting a positive spin on it, that her DD was a fighter, that she had learned to be tough because it was the only way to survive, but that we HAD to work together to end her behavior and help her develop better coping mechanisms.

We were lucky in that this mom was well-off (she was a single mom in her 40s) and was willing to do anything/everything to help her child be happy and successful. She got her into play therapy and when that didn't work, at our sggestion, she hired a SHADOW. This person shadowed this little girl for 6 hrs of the day and worked in my classroom for over 6 months!

Another trick we did was not giving ANY response, even negative, when the little girl bit or pinched. I would remove her from the situation but not say a WORD to her. Everything would be done silently, as I removed her to a time-out area.

Over time, this little girl did outgrow her behaviors, particularly as her speech caught up with her age-level and she was able to better articulate what she needed/wanted.

So I totally agree with you in the statement that, while kids can be unpredicatble, and stuff can happen FAST, parents need to be on guard. Op, if this becomes a pattern, then it's time to start talking to dad about how he can avoid these issues in the future, even if it means separating the boys during visitation. If he won't respond to THAT, and things continue, then, yes, it is time to seek legal advice.

    Bookmark   November 24, 2009 at 1:38PM
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"she hired a SHADOW" LH, after that incident at DD's daycare, I made reports to state and local agencies and every single one of them said that if the child is not removed, than a shadow is required. So basically the daycare should have either removed the child or had an aide just shadowing the girl the entire day. They said that it was negligence in knowing the child was this violent and not doing anything, ie removing and no shadow.

I totally get the random squabbles between children, but when it is consistently one child...they need to be dealt with. Nothing infuriates me further than adults explaining this off as child behavior, it is not. It is not normal child behavior to hit, kick, punch every day. Because it is normal in your household doesn't mean I want my DD subjected to it!

There was also another kid in that daycare who had bipolar (confirmed by teachers when they shouldn't have told parents) but anyway, he had the same deal going on in his class. Their solutions were to let him sit up front of the daycare with headphones on every time he assaulted a child. Their excuse? He cant help himself, he has bipolar. Next day, he was back in class assaulting whichever victim of the day. IMO, his parents and the daycare were at fault. I'm actually still shocked that both this kids parents and the little girls parents didn't yank them out themselves. I would never allow my DD to behave this way to other children.

    Bookmark   November 24, 2009 at 1:57PM
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"I'm actually still shocked that both this kids parents and the little girls parents didn't yank them out themselves"

yeah but during the time the child is away from the parents they are someone else's issue to deal with ....

    Bookmark   November 24, 2009 at 3:03PM
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When a child is diagnosed with a disability they are protected under certain laws. When I worked in daycare I had a girl diagnosed with disabilities and even though she often did things to try to harm other kids we could not kick her out because her behaviors were a result of her disability. It really was legal issues on our end that kept her with us.

So we had to do extra precautions to deal with her actions. And she was often sent to time outs in the directors office when her behavior got dangerous.

    Bookmark   December 1, 2009 at 1:10PM
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