Opinions Needed

almoststepmomNovember 11, 2008

As you all know, DS moved in with ex a few months ago. I have had a hard time adjusting to life with no kid to take care of but slowly I am learning to adjust with counseling and just learning to stay busy by doing things for myself. DS was mad for the first month after he left and wanted nothing to do with me. Finally, DS began an EOW visitation schedule with me. It was all going pretty well until I busted him smoking while on my weekend. I did not catch him in the act but leaned over to kiss his cheek when I walked in his room and I could smell the smoke on his face. I knew that the ex was letting DS hang out with a few boys that I would not allow him to hang out with but I did not figure since ex, SM and I were not getting along that they would appreciate me parenting from the sidelines so I let it go. SM has told me that their rules are different and they are more lax than I am. But now it has come back to bite them with DS. I debated about telling ex about DS smoking but figured that I would tell them and let them handle it just as they have done to me for years. DS was punished for smoking by ex and for not completing homework. DS grades are AWFUL but yet they continue to let him off easy. So in less than a week, other than undergoing a sniff test every time DS walked in the door, DS was back to hanging with his buddies and not doing his homework. I was amazed but let it go since DS has managed to somehow place all of the blame on me. I have become the one responsible for his troubles and DS is acting like what he did was nothing. So after me being ignored when I try to call or text him, I called the SM. I thought that even though we are not BFF that we had reached some sort of understanding when I told ex and SM that I discovered that DS was smoking and flunking classes at school. SM and ex talked to DS about returning my phone calls and/or text messages and sent him over to talk to me.

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When DS came over he was rude and refused to answer anything that I tried to talk to him about what was going on. Somehow, I have become the one to blame in all of this. The day that I contacted the ex about DS smoking, he assured me that he had gotten onto DS about his grades and they were coming up because he had personally watched him do all of the homework DS had not been doing. However, somehow that work never made it to the teacher and yesterday I found out the DS grades were lower than they were a few weeks ago. When I questioned SM about this, she seemed surprised and they have questioned DS. Now ex has realized the struggle that I have had to deal with on a daily basis to get DS to do his homework. DS may be 14 but the more freedom you give him, the less that he cares about any responsibility. My problem is that I do not want every weekend with DS to be an issue so I have decided it is best to just back off for awhile. My counselor says that DS is more sure of his relationship with me and therefore finds it easier to be mad at me rather than ex for punishing him because his relationship with ex is newer--not that he has not maintained visitation but DS is always more worried about what ex thinks than what I think of him. Am I right for allowing DS to skip Thanksgiving and EOW until he gets whatever he has going on over with and the attitude behind him??? Or should I endure the attitude and force DS to come over???

    Bookmark   November 11, 2008 at 4:25PM
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"Am I right for allowing DS to skip Thanksgiving and EOW until he gets whatever he has going on over with and the attitude behind him??? Or should I endure the attitude and force DS to come over???"

First off I know nothing about teenage boys although I am a full-time custodial stepmother to my two teenage stepdaughters. Teenagers really have a raw deal - hormones, peer pressure, pimples, trying to find their balance between child and adult - I don't envy them. And parents of teenagers have an equally raw deal - trying to teach cause and effect, actions have consequences, responsibility, mistakes will happen although we must learn from them, etc., etc., all while balancing unconditional love and as much positive reinforcement as we can muster. It's exhausting for everyone involved!!! That said, if I were in your position I would NOT let him have his way. Boys (just like men) don't like to sit and talk about their feelings (LOL!) although there comes a time in every male's life that they must learn that women are very different from men and therefore they must adapt to the opposite sex and learn how to communicate effectively with them (and we, as women, must be sensitive to the fact that men would rather poke their own eyeballs out!!). As such I would at least let him know what YOUR feeling and see if he's willing to tell you what he's feeling. Did I also happen to mention that teenagers can smell weakness?? Don't let him control the situation. You are his mother and even if you ultimately decide to "grant" him more freedom by temporarily suspending EOW visitation make sure he knows that it was YOUR decision - not him controlling the situtation.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2008 at 5:31PM
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I wouldn't let him off the hook --
But then I'm mean that way.

It's important that you keep visitation going or else DS will rewrite the situation to fit his current angst -- You're getting the blame, so he'll blame you for not seeing him. If you want, you can be nicer to him while he's there. But I still wouldn't relax your rules. They're good ones, reasonable rules, and like Lonepiper said, teenagers do smell weakness!

If Dad and StepMom are willing to take a hard line, an offer from you to support their program could improve relations between you. (Not to imply they're bad - I don't know.) But you probably realize how important it is to maintain consistency in parenting, and with Dad in the driver's seat, doing things his way (if you can live with it) might prove effective. Also, the more you and Dad/StepMom can talk, the less DS will be able to get away with. And the sooner he knows that, the better he'll behave.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2008 at 6:10PM
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Greetings almost.

I am far from being an expert but I do have a 16 year old son. I have full custody. He does not see his dad. Just a little bio there....My DS will smoke on occasion. When I found out about it a few months ago I smelled it on him, same as your situation. I asked him if he was smoking, he said yes. I told him he was an idiot. That is the type of relationship we have. If he is wonderful, I tell him he is wonderful. If he is an idiot, I tell me so. Smoking is foolish, we have talked about it at length before so he is not surprised that I think what I do. I am an EX smoker. I know.......I did not yell, lectured just a little and remind him from time to time the dangers. Can I stop him?, No. Can I make it out to be one of those behaviors that he chooses to rebel against me with? Yes. I would rather not make it that. Can't stop...don't want him using my money for it etc.

My DS's grades aren't the best. I have control over him as far as privileges so ex is not in the picture. Since you don't have a say at the moment, other than to express you displeasure to him and ex ( and I would from time to time ) I would try and back off. I would try and make the time that I had with DS to be one of relaxation and pleasure. You will have to do a "make over" of sorts based on the resent status of your relationship but it is possible to turn things around....at least it is possible for you to give it your best try.

I would start by letting him know how much you love him...tell him that you don't like the way things are between you and it isn't what you had hoped it would be...tell him you are sorry for what your part in the status of your relationship with him is and that you would dearly love for things to improve....reminisce with him about better times...what he was like when he was a little...what your hopes and dreams where for him then....what it means to you to be a mom....let him know how hard it was to go through the divorce and that you are sorry for what he has had to go through at the hands of his parents....and so on.

I would ask him if he would continue the visitation and give things a chance to change. Kids his age are ever changing and can be at the mercy of their hormones and so on. It is important they know that we, as parents, are on their side. Sometimes you have to bite your tongue as you listen to or see things that are going to be learning experiences for them. Some things you really have no control over and for a parent that is difficult to admit but it is true.....

My 2 cents worth.....best of luck.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2008 at 6:30PM
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