how to deal with Step-Son

marmie22December 20, 2007

Hi everyone, I am new to this site and decided to ask a question.

I have an 11year old step son who I really don't like. I have been working on my relationship with him and have made quite a bit of headway. At first, the ss used to hit his mom and yell at her and then, he thought that he could treat me the same way. My husband and I put a stop to that quickly. In the beginning, my husband only saw him 1nce a week, but as our relationship grew, so did the time with the son. Now he is at my house 4 days a week and 1 full weekend a month. I have two other kids 3 and 5 who look up to him. I am trying to tell them that this is not a very good role model, but it is not working. The ss has gotten a bit better since I first met him, but within these last few months, he has been heading down that bad path again. He has started to be a smart butt, he lies, is lazy and refuses to study. He also has really gross hygeine. I have to tell him to brush his teeth and to bathe. When he is at his BM house, he doesn't do this. I can literally smell him when he comes to my house. He also still wets the bed. I don't want my kids to end up like him. I am trying to potty train my kids at night, but they don't feel that they have to since my ss doesn't. I am embarassed to be seen in public with him because he is the kid that no one likes and that if people see him, they make fun of him. Not just kids either. He is very weird and immature for his age. He also has these ticks that are part of his ADHD that make him look really weird. It also doesn't help that my family is tan with black hair and he is white with red hair. I feel bad for him having to deal with this, but at the same time my kids come first. They are not mistakes and I don't think that they should be having to model theirselves after this bad kid because their dad made a mistake. The reality is that if he were not my ss, my kids would not be allowed to hang around him and not just because he is older. My family does not like him and refuse to babysit if he is included with the other two. I have also heard my husband's family talk about how weird he is too. I think my husband does not love him, but feels like he has to. When he is at my house he is usually punished for lying or mouthing off which means that we can't do anything until he leaves. His BM told me before in confidence that she couldn't stand him either and that she had to take breaks from him. She sends him to her mom's house, but I have no where to send him when I need a a break since no one will watch him. At least the BM only has him 3 days a week and she lives by a park where he can just leave all day. What am I to do? I don't want to get back to that place where I couldn't stand him at all, but that is where I am heading right now. I have so much other stuff going on that is stressing me out and this child is the number one cause right now.

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I've got to tell you, I almost cried when I read these things:

"I am embarassed to be seen in public with him because he is the kid that no one likes and that if people see him, they make fun of him."

"my kids come first. They are not mistakes and I don't think that they should be having to model theirselves after this bad kid because their dad made a mistake."

"I think my husband does not love him, but feels like he has to."

....and of course:

"It also doesn't help that my family is tan with black hair and he is white with red hair."

I mean, talk about the "red-headed stepchild"! Quite literally!

Listen, easy as it is to condemn you for even thinking these things about this poor kid, I won't. In fact, it's good that you are being so open *WITH US* and clearly you want to work on the problem because you're posting here to discuss it. You are saying in words what unfortunately many parents (step or bio) feel and think they are hiding but nonetheless broadcast silently and maybe even unknowingly to the child. Either way, I think you know how horrendous this would be for this child if you let your feelings show to him. (And unfortunately it sounds like his already all-too-aware.) I can tell you from experience, kids know when their step-parents resent their existence and find something to loathe about everything they do and are. But I also know it's hard to just completely hide your feelings let alone turn them around.

But that is exactly what you must do for everyone involved. *Including yourself* and your own sense of stress and frustration! Your rejection and resentment of him will create a monster. One that isn't even there already. He just sounds like a boy who might be on the 'xtra' side of sensitive, and perhaps he has ADHD as you say. Equally likely (esp. with the bed-wetting) that these behaviors are the way he is coping with the adjustment to a new home, puberty and perhaps change of school (?) and they're clear signs he is having a very hard time. How long has your family been blended?

Then imagine how unbearable it must be for him to know there's no one he can turn to who will understand him and what he's going through ---even his own family, if what you say is true about how they ALL supposedly feel about him--- and he certainly doesn't know what's causing his difficult behaviors, let alone how to "stop them". He feels utterly powerless, unwanted and as though everyone around him thinks he's a hopeless waste of space... how can he be expected to 'fix himself'?

Take all the energy and thought you are spending resenting him and re-channel it into being his #1 supporter (esp. if his father supposedly "doesn't love him") and helping him overcome his struggles. Meet with the school counselors. Seek help beyond that if needed. Do what it takes, and do it with love, not condemnation. Listen to him with compassion. Make him know for sure that SOMEONE gives a s**t.

If you can't feel motivated to do this out of pure selflessness, think of the effort as an investment in family harmony or (I almost choke repeating this) 'eliminating embarassment'. If you can't do this for him, I'm sorry to be mean, but I question you as a parent in general and would be concerned about how your other kids will fare once they, too, have the inevitable bad habits and adjustment issues that all kids face sooner or later.

So, in a nutshell: Acknowledge your feelings and admit them, but use them to make you aware of a seismic shift that must take place within you so you can turn this attitude around 180 degrees and make the "problem child" a loved and valued priority.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2007 at 1:43PM
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I couldn't agree with Serenity more. It would be easy to attack you but first, I believe you came here because you want it to get better. If you are only here to vent and don't want it to improve, then I would suggest staying away from this child because your if your current attitude continues or gets worse, it is toxic to this child.

Children crave love and acceptance. They don't get to decide if they are born with looks, personality or smarts. But I do believe that there is something special about every child. If you really care to make a difference in this child's life, you need to find the good things about him that maybe can't be seen. Focus on his good qualities.

If he comes over smelling, ignore it. I don't mean plug your nose and ignore it, I mean don't say "eww, you stink. go take a bath", which will make him feel dirty and bad. But give him praise when he washes up (you smell good) or when he is cleaned up, compliment him. The bedwetting is a sign of turmoil in his life. Kids will revert to that when they are under stress. (unless there's some sort of medical problem that should be ruled out first) He sounds like he needs someone in his life that is loving, patient and understanding.

The most disturbing comment in your message is that he is a mistake and your kids aren't. The circumstances of his conception and birth are irrelevant. He is a child and he didn't make the choice, his parents did. If they consider him a mistake, how cruel it is for them to burden this child with such a title. He is a gift. He certainly deserves more than what's been given to him and I find it really sad.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2007 at 2:12PM
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It does indeed sound like a hard and sad situation. I'm a new SM, but would advise that you listen to the sage advice already given by Serenity and Imammommy. Based on what I've read, they probably both have some insight into tougher situations.

I would recommend counseling - for him, and if he won't go, for you and DH. The boy can't just be dismissed by the family. The counselor should be able to give you advice about how to start making changes.

Primarily, I think even more than you getting involved, his DAD needs to get involved and fight *hard* for his own kid's health - mental and physical. I find it hard to believe that his son enjoys being the "smelly" kid or the "weird" one and I'm positive he is not proud that he wets the bed. He has some issues that seem serious and the lack of self care is the symptom that should not be ignored.

He's only 11 - if you don't do something now, it is only going to get worse in his teen years and it will become unmanageable. He can be helped, but it will be hard and it will require commitment from you and his DAD (and if BM is willing to help, that would be good too, of course).

And like the others said, please stop thinking of him as a *mistake.* I think that was the most heartbreaking part of the post. He's only 11, he doesn't want to be the way he is, but he just doesn't know how else to be.

Think of it this way - maybe you were meant to be in his life to help him. You just have to find a way.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2007 at 2:29PM
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ADHD causes a lot of the problems you've mentioned.

gross hygiene
smart mouth
public behavior that adults find absolutely mortifying
(falling down on the floor & eyeballing the ceiling in restaurants & stores, stuffing entire fist in mouth & slobbering on it, biting, messing in pants, picking nose & putting finger in mouth, you get the idea)

It isn't deliberate, he may not even realize he's doing it, & he certainly isn't able to focus enough to change it.

One thing you & his father & mother can do right now is to eliminate sugar (including carbohydrates, which the body metabolizes into sugar in about a nano-second) from his diet.

He needs high-protein & high-fiber foods.

Meanwhile, he needs a team-
doctors, counsellors, & dieticians.

Here, in the Dallas area, I'd say get his physician to refer you to Scottish Rite Hospital for Crippled Children;
they're excellent.

I wish all of you the best.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2007 at 2:45PM
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...wanted to add, it's astonishing how much difference the right diet & medication will make.

"My" little guy smelled, his hands were always raw, knuckles swollen, teeth nasty.
his handwriting was atrocious, he shrieked when something new emerged into his field of vision, couldn't sleep at night & couldn't wake up in the mornings, & at nearly 8 years old he couldn't ride a bicycle.

Add medication, counselling, & the right diet, remove sugar from the house, &...

clean, mannerly, thoughtful, hands returned to normal color & size, no more bedwetting, no more biting, frustration (his & everyone else's) almost disappeared, learned to ride his bike, he was capable of thinking about what he was about to do before he did it.

It's like the medication & diet neutralized the effects of the disorder & allowed the real person to emerge.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2007 at 2:55PM
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he sounds like he might be having some serious issues, some disability maybe. Bedwetting...EI maybe? Did you address it in school and your physician? Maybe he needs to be tested.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2007 at 3:35PM
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I couldn't read the whole thing ...kind of disgusted.

But I will add depending on what meds he is on for ADHD.(if he is on a med)

Side effects are tics and some cause tics .. my son was on straterra and caused major tics.

    Bookmark   December 21, 2007 at 1:39AM
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I've got to say this post from marmie has been making me think ever since i read it yesterday. I've been thinking about this young 11 year old boy, white with red hair and thinking how he must feel.

I've also been thinking about the person who came to this web site to express her feelings. This i am glad of and this is why these sites exist. The responses we get to our posts are sometimes hard to accept but then there are other replies to our posts that make us happy.

The one question i asked myself after reading marmie's post is the following : Why, why, why, why did this woman marry this man in the first place KNOWING he had this child in his life!

I understand it is hard being a steparent. I have been one for 18 years and out of my three step children, there have been some very difficult times with the oldest. I will be honest. There were times when i really, really, truly felt like i did not like this child and when i've had these feelings, i've felt tremendous guilt. During those times, believe me i've had to work on myself and to read many comments from other step parents to realize that if i am having trouble with this step is UP to ME to fix it! I must admit that i have worked on my relationship with myself in regards to this child, i've read every possible book possible on step parenting, i've read, many, many times all the comments on this web site in regards to step parenting, etc. and one day i truly came to the conclusion that if i couldn't accept this child, i would either have to leave the relationship with her father or do all my best to make things work between her and i. I began the process last April and i am so happy to say that this step child and i are on a happy road today.

So, marmie...stop blaming this child for being like this or like that. It is up to his FATHER to first and foremost take care of this child. This child disturbs you and this i can understand because you see things as a mother/woman.

Being a step parent is extremely difficult just like it is to be a biological parent. But you have chosen to be in that role and obviously you are having enormous difficulties dealing with it and believe me it will not get any easier with this child.

Think about it. You either give yourself a goal with this child and his father, i.e. you and the father will work with this child, do everything possible to find out why he is still wetting his bed, etc. etc.

Give yourself six months to see how things go. Otherwise...give yourself six months to get out of the relationship.

    Bookmark   December 21, 2007 at 9:16AM
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I have students who wet their bed at age 12. Emotional Impairment-severe case. Get him tested. Try it through school system.

    Bookmark   December 21, 2007 at 9:29AM
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I am having a desperately hard time controlling what I am feeling after reading this post. We are talking about a child here. More specifically, we are talking about a child who has been emotionally abandoned by every single person in his life that should be there for him. No wonder he has difficulties. Do you honestly think he wants to be the kid who is so different from everyone else that he is picked on by not only kids but adults as well? Do you think he wants to be so outcasted that his own mother ships him off because he is weird? Do you think he wants to be the kid that no one likes or wants to be around? How desperately lonely and sad it must be to be him. And I am sorry, but you, your husband, his mother, your family, his, heck every adult in this childs life needs to take a serious look at themselves and think about what they are doing to this child. I read nothing in this post that was so overwhelmingly terrible. The child lies, he is lazy, he won't study, he is a smart mouth. Well, guess what, this is adolescent... this is normal behavior for this age group. And, telling your children not to look up to him is severly wrong. What you should be doing is telling him that they look up to him so why don't you make it a point to take a shower every day and show them what they are supposed to do. It would be such a huge help to me. Apparently, the only ones who are excepting him for him are your children and that in itself is the blessing that is children... they can see past all of that nonesense and see whats underneath. And, I am sorry but if ANYONE made fun of ANY child in front of me ... my child or not I would have ... well let's just say I would have a few choice words for them myself. And NO child is a mistake. And... I can't even begin to express how upset I am to here this boy be called a mistake.

At this point, you have two choices... you can either change the entire way that you look at this situation and how you act with this child and be a positive (perhaps the only positive) person in this childs life... or you can leave this relationship and this childs life forever. This child has no business being treated this way and god help his parents if they dont wise up and love him for him. I can only hope that he gets the help that he needs and the love that he deserves.

    Bookmark   December 21, 2007 at 9:39AM
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I'm not going to express my feelings on this comment at this time, however I'm going to ask if you or DH have spoken to his doctor about the tics or the other problems you describe?

He could be having a reaction to his medication, or it could be severe emotional distress because of the way people treat him. My heart really goes out to this child. He's crying for attention and help and no one will give it to him. That doesn't say much for any of the people involved in this child's life. No child is a mistake. People all over the world are desperately trying to have children, or lose a child to stillbirth, miscarriage, or SIDS and other people can have children and neglect them. It breaks my heart.

He may not be studying because he can't. I myself have ADHD and I know exactly how hard it is to sit there and try to be still and try to focus on something when your mind is wandering all over the room. The medication helps, but it doesn't make everything alright. It took constant support from my family and myself to push myself to sit and think. I came up with my own way of dealing with the disease and my own mind exercises to keep myself in check with what I'm trying to do.

As to the tics, you might have him tested for tourettes. I'm going to post a website that explains it.

At the bottom of the page it says:

"Epidemiology and clinical science: Careful epidemiological studies now estimate the prevalence of TS to be substantially higher than previously thought with a wider range of clinical severity. Furthermore, clinical studies are providing new findings regarding TS and co-existing conditions. These include subtyping studies of TS and OCD, an examination of the link between ADHD and learning problems in children with TS, a new appreciation of sensory tics, and the role of co-existing disorders in rage attacks. One of the most important and controversial areas of TS science involves the relationship between TS and autoimmune brain injury associated with group A beta-hemolytic streptococcal infections or other infectious processes. There are a number of epidemiological and clinical investigations currently underway in this intriguing area."

It's worth a shot.

    Bookmark   December 21, 2007 at 10:17AM
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The poor child. Does the father realize how you feel about him? Or that you believe the father doesn't love him?

And the racist/ethnic bigotry is despicable.

    Bookmark   December 21, 2007 at 4:15PM
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Holding a child's race against him would be despicable, and I think Marmie needs to turn some corners in this situation... But I think she was just listing race as one more complicating issue, not saying she hates white kids...

I see how the ethnicity issue can complicate stepfamily issues even more:
I have very pale skin, blue eyes, light auburn hair and a few freckles (this is me and my grandpa earlier this week if you care to see what I look like). My BF has blond hair and blue eyes. His son is part Aboriginal, so A__ has dark brown hair, dark skin, and brown eyes.
When the three of us are out together, I see people trying to piece it together and it can make for an awkward situation, even though we're pretty low conflict. If I had my own BCs, or if J__ and I have children together, then A__ would have siblings who look nothing like him and that could be confusing too.

I don't love A__ less because he's a different race than me, but it can create complications in the outside world.
So, when you add that to Marmie's already conflicted feelings towards her SS... ... ...

    Bookmark   December 21, 2007 at 4:49PM
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I've been struggling with your post since you made it and trying to think what your shoes may be like.

First, the other posters who have recommended counseling are bang-on! I think everyone involved could benefit from it.

"I have been working on my relationship with him and have made quite a bit of headway."
That's good news!
I also think that not trying to exclude your SS from your life just because you don't particularly like him and he's got a lot of troubles is a good thing.
But there's lots of things in your post that aren't good, and I'm going to try to go through some of them one by one. This could get looooong.

His hygiene issues: Lots of 11 yo kids (especially boys) don't want to bathe and have to be told to. He may grow out of that.
Like Ima said, try to be positive about good hygiene, but don't come down too hard on him if he shows up stinky because Mom didn't make him take a shower or brush his teeth.
Ways to support good hygiene from him:
- Make sure he's up early enough in the morning to take a shower or that there's an allotted bathtime at night (whichever he prefers). Just build it into his daily routine.
- You or his dad might have to teach him how to bathe properly if no one taught him earlier in life (lather up the soap, be sure to wash all the little crevices and corners, rinse off with fresh water, etc). Be positive about it - just like how your would teach your 5yo to tie his shoes.
- Make bathing fun. If he likes Spiderman or some other media figure, put his soap in a Spidey pump. If he loves basketball, cut a basketball in half, punch some holes in the bottom for drainage and hang it in the tub with his toiletries in it. Put a little CD player in the bathroom and let him play his favourite music while he bathes.

The 'bad role model' thing:
- Please don't tell your kids their SB is a bad role model! It could cause problems later down the road in their relationship and it makes your SS into a second-class citizen in his own home.
- No one is perfect - SS may be a bad role model in other ways, but he's bound to be good at something. Tell the little ones "Nobody's perfect. Everyone is good and bad at different things. He's good at ___ and not so good at ___. We should try to look for things other people are good at and try to be like that. We shouldn't not try at something just because someone else isn't good at it" (This is a big concept for a 3yo, but so is 'role model')

It usually happens for a reason. Sometimes that's emotional stress, or a disability, or a growth spurt, etc, etc. There are plenty of sites on the internet strictly about bedwetting that might be better resources for you than we can be.
My ideas would include limiting liquids after dinner, Pull-ups type undies at night, perhaps setting an alarm clock for sometime in the night for him to get up to pee? As for your little ones, don't tell them when their SB wets the bed. He's probably already quite embarrassed and I bet having his younger siblings know about it doesn't make it easier for anyone.

Going out in public:
If other people make fun of your SS, feel free to tell them to "shut the h3ll up!" Adults should NOT be making fun of a child, no matter how weird he is. Period.
What I really don't understand is why on earth would you care if strangers think your SS is weird?! Strangers don't really matter, even if they make you feel a little awkward at times.
I understand that racial differences can complicate going out with a stepfamily (see my above post), and be one more thing making a situation difficult. Strangers will automatically accept that you are family with your tan coloured children, but may have to do a double-take and some thinking to figure out how you're family with your SS, and this might make him feel like the odd-man out. How does your SS feel about this? Does he notice or care? (My BF's son rarely notices the double-takes, but he's only 8, and his dad has explained that sometimes people don't understand that families can be different colours)
The tics and ADHD part of going in public... People are a bunch of jerks who don't like to accept those who are different from themselves. Think of how people with disabilities are treated in the public sphere - it's AWFUL! I don't think you can't really do anything about how other people will react to his "weirdness", but try not to make a big deal of it within your family. If he's shouting, tell him to shoosh, but if he's twitching and he can't help it, don't be upset with him. That will probably make it worse. If people see that you're relaxed about it, they'll probably be more comfortable with it too.

- "Mistake"
Please don't think of ~him~ as a mistake. Perhaps your DH's relationship with his mother was a mistake. Perhaps his conception was unintentional. But ~he~ is not a mistake.
My BF's son's conception was unintentional, and his mom's relationship with the guy who provided the gametes was a mistake, but A__ is NOT a mistake and I would give anyone who thought of him that way a piece of my mind!!
Besides, plenty of mistakes have excellent end results!

Why won't your family sit for him? If it's because he's "weird" tell them to act like adults and deal with it. If it's due to some of the behavioral things you mentioned (like hitting) then it's pretty valid.
Is he shy or extra-weird with people he doesn't know well or in strange places? It could help to have the sitter come to your house so he feels more secure and may be better behaved.

Please please please don't ever tell him that you don't really like him, that you think his dad doesn't love him or that his mom said she can't stand him.

If he's being punished the whole time he's with you, then it doesn't sound like he has a lot of incentive to behave. If I was 11 and knew I was already in the doghouse and wouldn't be getting out of it anytime soon, I'd probably mouth off too.
Would it work to say "if you're good all day today, we can go do ____ tonight"? Kids need different sorts of discipline for different behaviors.

Find a GOOD specialist. If it's really ADHD, proper medication and ADHD training courses can help.
It also may not be ADHD - my friend's brother (who sounds a lot like your SS in many ways) was diagnosed as ADHD for years, but nothing helped. When he was about 14 they finally found the right family doctor who sent him to an autism specialist. He turns out to have mild autism. So now, after a couple years of treatment for autism, he's doing great!

I hope you and your family can sort through this... And I really think you should consider counseling o help you out!

    Bookmark   December 21, 2007 at 7:58PM
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When my brother is out with my niece, people always stare and once two ladies whispered: "look, she must be adopted"...We laughed so hard when he told us. He is very dark, black hair, brown eyes, dark skin as my whole family is (with the exception of me for whatever reason hhmmm) but she is light blonde and light skin, blue eyes and looks nothing like him, facial features are nothing even remotelly alike. We were glad my niece didnot hear people saying she is adopted. lol

    Bookmark   December 21, 2007 at 8:47PM
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I just can not read anymore of this "poor poor child" crap! Is there any way to get him sent back HOME with his mother more often? I mean, you have your OWN children to be concerned about! I feel for you... I know what it's like to hate a stepchild and all you get from people is "poor kid, wah wah" you know what? YOU have a responsibility to YOUR children - not THAT kid. Period. I had to divorce my husband and now MY kids are left in this messed up split family situation, all because of his unrealistic expectations from me on his mistake kid from previous! So i KNOW what it's like. Believe me. And now he's been begging to get me back ever since! Too bad he couldnt buy a clue before things went to h. e. double-toothpicks!

    Bookmark   December 21, 2007 at 10:37PM
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Children's HOME is where their parents are. Mother or father or both. So it is HIS HOME. If dad's new wife, GF, or somebody he picked up at the bar ofr a night (sorry somebody else said that before :)), dislike him so much then maybe relationship should end right there. And haven't they met stepchildren before marrying?

Children do not wet their beds because they want to, and they do not develop ADHD or ticks to piss off dad's new wife. Are you completely sure one of your children is not going to develop something to struggle with in the future? Some disabilities or developmental delays show up later in life. Or you think that only stepchildren sometimes born different or difficult?

Because of women like you people have such a bad perception of stepmothers. I can't believe people like this even exist. Nobody demand from you to marry men with difficult children or you expected your DHs would abandon their children for new passion's sake? Well apprarently they do not. Good for them.

    Bookmark   December 22, 2007 at 12:03AM
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Not everyone is cut out from birth or life experience to parent a child with special needs. And whether anyone has diagnosed it or not, whether anyone has admitted it or not -- that's what you have. This little boy needs extra love and care, and ALL of his parents need to get to the point where they can give it to him, because he's sure not getting it now.

The first steps should be medical, because from all of the symptems you've listed, it appears his medical care and diagnoses are either inappropriate or inadequate. While ADHD can be exasperating and challenging, it's NOT the kind of disability that should be visible to strangers at a casual glance. Look at autism spectrum issues, Tourette's, neurological disorders and seizures, and work from there.

Second, get in touch with some parent support groups geared to help parents of special needs kids. They are out there and will welcome you with open arms. Those parents will know how to cope with bedwetting and work to change it, how to help calm hand-flapping and ticking behaviors to the extend possible, how to modify your child's diet to avoid foods that trigger problems. Those parents will help you work with the schools to get him the educational and social supports he will need. And those parents will understand your own frustrations and help you cope.

If you can do these things, there may be a chance to save both your stepson and your marriage.

    Bookmark   December 22, 2007 at 10:35AM
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I had forgotten where I had posted this question and I just found it. I can not believe all of these mean and terrible responses that I got. There were only 3 responses that were nice and not an attack. You people should take a second look at yourselves. I know I am not the only one that has ever felt like this. I am probably the only one with the guts to say it out loud. I am glad I didn't read these until now. I found my own way to work things out and guess has worked without counseling, or getting bashed by a bunch of holier than thou jerks. Everything that I posted was mainly for advice and venting and I am not so stupid as to go and tell all of these feelings to my ss. My husband knew how I felt and reccomended that I research it online. I apologized to him for saying he didn't love his son. He never had anything to do with his kid when we were first together and only decided to interact with the son after he saw what a good mom I was. Both of my kids learned to write their names, count to 30, and read at the age of 2. They are happy,loved, polite and very sweet and I am always complimented on my parenting skills with them and the ss. My step son was intolerable for the first 6 years of his life. When I started to work with him, everyone saw a huge difference. He didn't hit anymore, he was polite, he became student of the month for the first time in his life. When I wrote this post last year, I was scared that he was going to go back to the way he was. It was a post that needed comfort and good advice, not condemnation! I won't go into details, but this child's lies cost me $5,000 during this time. He lied about his BM and I was angry a/b this and venting to you. As far as people not wanting to babysit him it is because he is too hyper and requires a lot of attention. The part about the "mistake their dad made" I was talking about their dad's mistake in having him at such a young age. My children at that time thought it was okay to lie and to wet the bed. My ss undid what I had strived so hard to teach them. Honesty and going to the potty. My kids are not allowed to play with kids who lie or who teach them bad things/words. Those are the things my ss was doing then. Everything that I did til now was rewards and talking to him. I didn't medicate him or any of the other crap you people said. Thank God I got things together with my family on my own. My step son is on the honor roll, has a friend for the first time in his life, bathes everyday, is more conscious of the way he dresses, and is polite. Guess what all of this in a year without a shrink or people telling me I am a bad mom. My family babsits him now too. He does still wet the bed and it isn't him coping with a new home. We have been a family for 7 years. We have almost nipped that, but not yet. I am stopping his drinking 2hrs before bed. It is working pretty well. I have read other posts where people have said similar things to me in this post and they were not yelled at. I think you people need to look at yourselves and see how you can be better advisors. If I had read this last year, I would have given up. You can't judge others until you have walked in their shoes. FYI the BM has lost all of relationships with men b/c of ss. The same with the dad until I came along. The BM is married now, but the husband wants to leave her because of my ss. We have only met a/b 10 people who have actually liked ss. He is just one of those personalities that for some reason is hard to accept. I would like to have seen you people deal with him before I got to him. I will not take all of the credit for his changes since he is the one who has made them. I do get credit for sticking with him when others didn't though. I will just take it day by day and stay motivated to be a good mom. I have learned my lesson on venting to you people though.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2008 at 3:19PM
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Seriously! Is this a joke????? Not even sure what to say here. Maybe you should take your perfect children, who were not mistakes, and do this child a favor and get out of his life. I am glad to not me you in person or I mean you should be glad to not meet me in person.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2008 at 3:46PM
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First of all, I never said my kids were perfect. They make mistakes as well, but they are generally well behaved and loving. My stepson told me he was just jealous and that is why he made things up about his bm. He wanted to be in our family more and was trying to get more attention. Once I gave him even more attention we settled things. Second of all, you have no business telling me to get out of his life. You don't know anything about my situation. My ss was a mistake. His dad was 16 when he had him and the bm 15. I am not saying that this is bad because you know what...I am a mistake too. When I said that before, I was angry and venting. I agree that I probably should not have put it that way, but what is done is done. Many kids are mistakes, but the way he was acting back then was really bad. The lie he told was really bad too, but I can understand since he did it so that he could live at my house more. He wanted to have more weekends with dh and I. Once we gave him that the lies and acting up stopped. Obviously the ss wants me in his life. He has also started to call me mom. We are able to talk and things are totally opposite from when I first met him. He is still having trouble with bullies, but that is something that I can't really help him with. I am not at school and can't defend him. I do give hime advice on dealing with it, but it is hard when the teachers do it too. My original post was during an angry/stressful day when I was at my wits end with his behavior. You should see my family now. I love my stepson now and am seeing positive changes in him everyday. It turns out all he needed was more attention. So, maybe you need to learn a little bit of empathy. Violence is not the way to go by the way. My ss deals with people like you all of the time who turn to violence before using compassion. I am sure we have all vented before and made things bigger than they were. If you haven't then you must be Jesus.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2008 at 5:09PM
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Who is saying anything about violence??

You can excuse what you said all you want, but the things you said were horrible. It is nice to see that you are behind him now that he more "normal."

It is one thing to vent, but another to make fun of someone's disabilities or troubles. It was mean and spiteful. I have no tolerance for people like you.

Ps I was not saying that I would in anyway harm you, but I may spit in your eye.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2008 at 5:32PM
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While I'm glad things have improved, I think you might need to get over yourself.

People here tried to help you... Most of us here feel that change within a family starts with the grown-ups - so we offered ideas on what you could do.
But since you're obviously perfect, I guess you didn't need our ideas.

Do us all a favour: forget where you posted this for another year (or seven).

    Bookmark   November 12, 2008 at 6:05PM
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"Do us all a favour: forget where you posted this for another year (or seven)."


And just FYI, these last two posts are from mothers who HAVE kids/Skids with exactly the same kinds of issues you were venting about.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2008 at 6:21PM
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"he only decided to interact with the son after he saw what a good mom I was"

How lucky for your stepson that his father was lucky enough to meet you. Otherwise, I guess he would still be a inadequate father, right? ~sarcasm intended!~ GIVE ME A BREAK!! A good mom would never have written the things you said. It's one thing to vent and be frustrated, it's another to say mean things that lack empathy or caring. That's what you did. It broke my heart when I read the original post & I prayed for this child.

"FYI the BM has lost all of relationships with men b/c of ss. The same with the dad until I came along."

Again, 'until you came along'... you must really have sturdy shoulders to hold up your big fat swelled up head!!!! How dare you blame a child for their parent's failed relationships??? Has it occurred to you that any of the problems you attributed to the child in the original post were CAUSED by his parents and their lack of parenting him??? Your stepson isn't the problem, his parents are. They are the ones that have failed him. Oh, but then you have saved him... oh how lucky he is!!!

"So, maybe you need to learn a little bit of empathy"

Not all the responses were an attack, there were several posters that gave you much more empathy than you gave your stepson in the original post, myself included.

I'm glad you are doing what you can for your stepson and if you are the only person in his life that cares, then it is commendable, but it's outrageous for you to have the attitude that 'if not for me, he'd have nothing' because it is still sad to me that if you are all he's got in the way of someone that cares, you have a really crappy attitude. Just from what you've written, it's all about you and not your stepson.

and let me clarify that nobody is a mistake. God doesn't make mistakes, he creates miracles... and no, I'm not Jesus.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2008 at 8:22PM
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We all have had times of resentment when it comes to our SC.
It's understandable that a young father of 16 might not have a clue as to how to be a father. But now 12 years later that makes the dad 28...old enough to understand what parenting means. I certainly hope this poor child isn't ridiculed when he wets the bed or made to feel bad about himself. I can't begin to understand the problems you face helping to raise him. But I can echo the other posters...He's just a little boy trying to cope with the fact that he wasn't planned for or wanted and has a host of psychological possibly medical problems. counseling even if things are going ok now would help you to release your resentment and put things into proper perspective. I feel for him and I feel for your struggle to find balance. Try not to take the comments of the others so defensivly, instead, be grateful that we all consider the well being of this poor baby the priority.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2008 at 10:44AM
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It's sad that you are going through this situation. I know how constricting and frustrating it is to have a ss.
I pray and when that doesn't work I pray harder and I'll put you in my prayers too.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2011 at 5:23PM
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I think alot of you have been insensitive to Marmie about her situation because you have not been in her shoes. I myself am currently in her shoes although I dont not have all of the same issues. It is difficult for any parent to see their child going down a bad path and for some of us it is difficult to give the same kind of love and acceptance to someone who is relatively a stranger, child or not. I understand how she feels and like one of you said initially before launching attack later, she voiced alot of things that parents and step parents often think but would not say aloud for fear of how they themselves feel about it as well as condemnation from others. It was actually comforting to me to see that I was not the only person who searched for help on an issue like this.

When I married my husband I had already established a relationship with my ss and I had some idea of how he was but since we actually moved in together and the relationship has evolved, I'm seeing alot of things that I don't like and would not like to have influence my own kids. I have always loved kids but I can't say that I would love my neighbor's kid or even my sister's kid like I would my own esp if the child is "bad." I understand that some ppl can but I find it really difficult.

We have my ss on weekends and for the last 2.5 yrs since I've known my husband with this child, everyweekend, there is drama. every weekend. I married him because of my love for him and with the hope that my ss would improve with enough love and guidance. We both commute far from home and dont have time during the week to do much of anything and its hard to have the weekend be constantly turned into an unenjoyable event. I really do want the best for the child but i find myself having to constantly try to correct bad habits and behaviors that he learns at his BM house during the week. She herself brings in alot of drama that we try to filter out. And I can really understand where Marmie's frustration was coming from because it seems like no matter how gentle and tolerant and accepting and loving you try to be, you feel helpless!!!!

I feel like ppl don't like to admit this but kids are ppl too, theyre just a little more ignorant about life because they haven't been here as long. That's why they need parental guidance. I fear the raod I see my 10 yr old step son going down esp beacause I grew up around kids just like him and I know where most of them end up. I feel no shame and being afraid of having that kind of influence around my own kids. I think any parent would be quick to protect their own kids over someone else's and that's what Marmie was trying to say, whether she calls herself a great mom or not.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2012 at 8:48PM
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I've read this thread with some interest, even though it was started quite a few years ago and marmie22 is probably long gone.

I also have a stepson with ADHD, and it's gotten much worse since he reached puberty. He is now 15. We've had hygiene problems, to the point where we had to throw out his mattress and pillows in the fall due to the smell.

My husband and I are both worn down by my stepson's constant state of agitation. He can't sit still, and will explode unless he's permitted to play video games constantly. Everything is a battle - bathing, studying etc. etc. And every battle is explosive, with yelling and door slamming. We've tried eliminating sugar, to no effect. We've tried structured routines, which helps a little but not a lot. We get him as much exercise as we can. However, even full days of skiing don't seem to take the edge off.

I would value any advice from a stepparent who has lived with a child with ADHD. I'd read about ADHD in the past, but it's something very different to live with it. It's exhausting and it ruins every family occasion. I've reached the point where I don't want to go on vacation and I dread the weekends. My happiest moments are those when I'm working late at the office.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2012 at 3:14PM
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I've raised a BioSon with ADHD and am raising another with high functioning autism -- so I do understand some of what you're going through.

You don't mention that you've tried ADHD medication -- Have you? And does it do any good?

    Bookmark   February 4, 2012 at 6:07PM
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Dear Sweeby,

thank you for your response. You must have had quite an experience and I don't know how you managed it. My stepson hasn't taken any medication. He was living with the Biomom during his first year of high school, when puberty hit and the ADHD got much worse. She didn't take care of any of his medical needs. He moved in with us about a year ago after turning 14. My husband took him to the doctor, who told us that, at age 14 in our jurisdiction, my stepson would have to consent to taking the medications. As you can imagine - he refuses. The ADHD seems to make him argue against anything and everything.

I'd be interested to know your experience with medication. A positive anecdote might encourage my husband to press the issue harder with his son.

In addition to creating a stressful environment, I feel like the ADHD is robbing my stepson of his high school years. He doesn't play on any teams or belong to any clubs at school. He only seems to have one friend that he sees every couple of months. His marks are poor, even though he tests in the gifted range. It's sad.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2012 at 10:37AM
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One tactic that was very effective with my son was to acknowledge his right to have input into the decisions that affected him -- but within limits. Specifically -- I would agree to take his opinion into account if I could be sure he had considered the problem carefully. He could demonstrate that he had considered the problem carefully by listing three advantages and three disadvantages of each side. If he could do that -- then I would know he had considered the problem with maturity and would give his opinion the significant weight that it deserved. If he couldn't name three *real* positives and three *real* negatives, then I knew he was thinking like a child and that I should not give his preferences much weight and would make the decision that I, as a parent, felt was best.

In this instance, that approach would require that he at least TRY ADHD medication for one week, then list the positive and negative aspects of his experience. (There are fast-acting meds that will work immediately -- a week is a fair trial for the concept, though not necessarily enough time to fine-tune med and dose.) Because if he didn't even try it, how could he have any real knowledge about it? If he refused to even try it, then I would say that he was acting like an immature toddler throwing a temper tantrum, and not like someone who is mature enough for the kinds of privileges most other kids his age get. (Cell phone, MySpace account, 'M' video games, Internet freedom, etc. -- whatever will work.)

The main reason my son objected to taking ADHD meds was that at that time, he had to go to the school nurse to get his pill at lunchtime, and he felt stigmatized by that. There are now long-acting medications that he can take in the morning that would not involve a trip to the nurse.

He may also argue that he's doing FINE! right now, even though you know he is having troubles. I'd counter that with his intelligence, good looks, sparkling personality and all, he might be able to do even better than FINE!, and isn't it worth finding out?

Does he even accept that he has ADHD? And has he been brainwashed to think that taking ADHD medication is bad? (Some parents feel that way...)

It may not be the 'best thing since sliced bread' for him -- but for many kids with ADHD, it makes a HUGE difference, and one you can see quickly. Then with that immediate improvement, you can start fine-tuning the minor stuff...

    Bookmark   February 6, 2012 at 5:24PM
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Thank you Sweeby. I am going to pass on your advice to my husband. I really like your idea about the advantages and disadvantages list. I find that my stepson is very oppositional and will argue against almost anything, sometimes to the point of being irrational (he once argued against using hot dog buns for hot dogs!). It's odd because he's highly intelligent and will often intelligently critique poor choices that other people make. Yet, he can't seem to apply that intelligence to himself.

I also like your idea about the privileges. My stepson plays video games during most of the hours that he is home. I think that my husband is allowing this behaviour because it reduces the amount of trouble in the house. However, my stepson is far too immature to decide how much gaming is appropriate for himself. Also, the gaming seems to aggravate his irritability.

I think that part of the problem here is my husband. He accepts that his son has ADHD, but he hasn't pushed the medication issue. His son also has stomach problems and my husband faithfully gives him his medicine. However, I think that my husband is having a hard time accepting that his son needs medication for a "brain" issue. It's caused a fair bit of conflict between us and ultimately has lead to me disengaging from the issue, and avoiding much time at home. I am now planning a separate vacation this year for me and my daughter because we both desperately need some respite.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2012 at 9:06AM
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I so get that oppositional streak! My son had it too --- But he knew when he was doing it, and your SS does too.

That's part of the beauty of the +/- approach: that kind of vehement opposition is automatic grounds for discounting their wishes.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2012 at 4:50PM
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That's interesting. I didn't think that my stepson could tell when he was being oppositional.

Do you have any advice for parents who are worn out? You mention that you have a son with ADHD and another with autism. How did you get any respite?

Being a stepparent adds to the difficulty of managing the situation. I don't have enough control over the situation to implement any positive solutions (like medication) but I do have to live with the consequences of the lack of progress. I have a 10 year old daughter who is also living with the fallout of spoiled vacations and loud arguments in the house. I'd like to find some ways to give us a break.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2012 at 11:13AM
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How do I get any respite? -- Well, honestly, I just tell my husband I'm taking some -- that I need a break and am officially going 'off duty' for a few hours, then he absolutely steps up to the plate. Of course, he has time off also --

I think the biggest thing for us is to absolutely have each others' backs and to be on the same page with regard to what is OK and what is not. He was a bit stricter on 'attitude' than I am, and me a bit stricter on manners, but we're pretty much on the same page, and neither one of us would ever side with a child against the other parent.

The other thing I am forever grateful for is that we instilled certain core behavior standards EARLY and with no exceptions. Tantrums got a kid sent to his room, where there was no TV and no Internet, and any destruction that took place in the room had to be cleaned by the kid before he was allowed out -- so it didn't happen more than once. Dirty looks were tolerated, but foul language, yelling or name-calling never were. I don't think anyone ever hit anyone else, and neither Hubby or I are screamers -- so that helped. Arguments had to be rational and delivered in a reasonably calm and respectful manner, and sometimes, a good argument did change a decision. However irrational arguments, yelling or whining never worked, and I frequently asked the boys "If you continue whining and arguing, will I change my mind?" I found that when situations escalated, making my voice quieter and slower worked much better than talking louder. They learned pretty quickly that self-control was highly valued, and that out-of-control actions always produced negative consequences.

That's really it... I'm just grateful it worked!

    Bookmark   February 8, 2012 at 11:33AM
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Your rules should be implemented in every household. In fact, they should be on the homepage of this website. I find that so much of the suffering endured by stepparents on this site is caused by plain old fashioned rudeness, which shouldn't be tolerated in any home, by any parent (step or bio).

I've thought a great deal about your posts and I realize that you are successful because you and your husband are very good parents. You are very different from my husband. He's a great guy and he's a great friend and provider to his kids. However, he's not a great parent. He's not consistent, he never follows through with a consequence and he rarely requires them to do anything that they don't want to do. He tolerates rudeness and poor attitude, and he'd rather make excuses for his kids than hold them to a reasonable standard. I love my husband, but I can see that his weak parenting has been at least partially responsible for his son's situation today. I can pass on suggestions (like your excellent ones) but ultimately there's little I can do to implement solutions that require committment and consistency.

Thank you Sweeby for sharing your thoughts with me. They've been very valuable.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2012 at 1:03PM
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I have read Marmies story and can sympathise. I have a slightly similar situation, although I don't have my own kids. I have to add that I worry about having children with my partner because of the brother my child will have, I also understand the dislike, it can't be helped he's not your child afteralll and I applaud your honesty. It's hard to come out and say but being honest with yourself is the first step to solving the problem. His father and natural mother have allot to answer for, this boy clearly is not getting the support he needs. I consider your best course of action to kick the fathers butt !! The boy firstly needs to seek professional help for the bed wetting. In our situation my as is encouraged to drink plenty of water during the day but no fluids 2 hours before bed time and no diuretics in the afternoon (black currant juice, caffine, etc) this has to be supported by the mother but if you explain it to the child and that this course of action will help he may continue to follow instructions when at his mothers. The next is diet. I don't care who disagrees, the correlation between ADHD and diet is incontrovertible to my mind. Cut out all unnatural food. You can gradually reintroduce natural sweets and chocolate (actual real chocolate not American chemical filled brown nonsense) you WILL be able to identify which foods he reacts negatively too ( look for redness in the skin, increased tics, inability to hold prolonged eye contact, not having full control of what he's saying, unable to hold a conversation or listen ) the reaction can be subltle so you will need to pay attention. Make time for him, talk to him about what interests him. Inspire him to be a better person, talk about socialisation, the importance of respecting people and the joy of finding friends. A professional can help and given that he's from a broken home this is something you can hopefully discuss with his school. If the support isn't there for him, consider changing schools. Remember that this is your children's brother and that they love him. Try to see him through their eyes, not yours. Think about how much time they will spend with your kids in the future.. So your gonna want to know who this boy is and have an influence on who he will become, so consider that when your finding it hard to be around him. Grizz it out for your own kids sake, it is hard, it will be hard, no one said it would be easy but it WILL be worth it, you can help turn this boys life around, what a wonderful position to be in! And all those who say "it's your choice you knew he had a kid bla bla bla" hang them we all make choices that are hard but we retain the right to ask for help or have the occasional whine about it doll, best of luck to you x

    Bookmark   October 20, 2013 at 5:49PM
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