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Stepson advice

Posted by hamiltongardener (My Page) on
Thu, May 12, 11 at 21:48

Bit of background for you.

I have DS-15 years old, SS-15 years old, and SD-12 years old. DS and SS live with us, SD lives with her mom.

DS and SS are in the same grade, go to the same school and DS tells me stories about what is happening at school.

Apparently SS is not getting along well with other kids. No real friends and admittedly, he is quite socially awkward. It sounds like the kids at school shun him quite a bit, find him weird.

The disturbing aspect of this is that they have started calling him "Columbine Boy" or "kid voted most likely to go Columbine". The story is that it stems from him sitting in the hallway glowering at everyone who walks by. Sometimes he mutters under his breath too. I don't know if he's aware of the other kids' nickname for him or not.

My first issue is whether to tell his father about the social awkwardness. I see it, but like any loving father, he sees his son as a well rounded and well liked individual.

My second issue is whether or not there is really anything that can be done. You can't force a kid to become more likeable or to become an extrovert rather than an introvert, right?


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Stepson advice

No but you can call the school ... and let them know whats up so that one day if he does walk in a shoot them all ... atleast you warned them ... he's being bullied its no wonder he is socially awkward!!!

Tell hubby and discuss it with both boys ...

SS13 was harrassed often ... got wind of it via FB ... called school told them he was told to beat the crap out of the other kid he may get suspended but he will be praised at home for sticking up for himself ... hasn't happened since.


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RE: Stepson advice

You can get him help with his social skills. I wouldn't recommend going to the school to get the help but maybe a counselor or counseling center. My nephew is socially awkward too and has many diagnosis'. Such as ADHD and oppositional defiance disorder. (the name says it all).
He is in a program through the school that teaches him social skills and it actually keeps him out of the normal population but close enough to experience his new found skills. The reason I do not like the program is because it's a special Ed program and since he is only receiving social skills, he is an A-gifted/advanced student mixed in with special needs children and they are mixed in with the behaviorally challenged. I think they should be separated because their needs are completely different. My nephew is learning social skills while being bullied about being in the 'special ed' class. Which he is but he is being bullied where he should be protected and the school says 'kids will be kids' or they say they've only witnessed him being 'weird' not being bullied.

Anyway- he sees a psychologist and a psychiatrist for medication and he actually has come a long way. He no logger threatens suicide every time someone bullies him and he has actually started making friends. He has never had any friends and right now he has a good handful. Some times they need a little guidance In the social dept. We think it should be easy for kids to meet friends but these days the kids are so mean... And they make up these terrible names. I don't remember those things when I was in school. Of course Columbine had not happened and I am equally dumbfounded at how kids think this is at all funny. What a horrible situation to laugh at. I really believe that you need to speak to your husband and let him know because he needs to know what is happening to his child.


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RE: Stepson advice

"I wouldn't recommend going to the school to get the help but maybe a counselor or counseling center."

he is bullied at school, it is the first place where it needs to be addressed ASAP.

yes the father need to know


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RE: Stepson advice

he is bullied at school, it is the first place where it needs to be addressed ASAP.

Well, technically he is not being bullied. I suppose I should have gone into more of the background but I didn't want to get into the greater detail.

The response of the other kids is because of earlier incidents. His first semester last year he was in Phys. Ed. class and was caught stealing things from other student's gym bags. My son has tried to have his friends include him in things but he gets hostile toward them. He also says strange things, that part is hard to describe.

This is a conversation that happened on my front step one day while some boys were waiting for DS to come out skateboarding:

Kid#1: Dude, what happened to your arm?

Kid#2: Fell off my board, tore the skin right off. (Holding up the scabbed arm)

Kid#1: Dude, that sucks! Hate when that happens!

Stepson: Yeah, and I hate dogs. (Starts laughing like he just told a joke)

Kid#1: (sideways glance at Kid#2) Okaaay.

Stepson: You know, like you're riding a dog like it's a skateboard. (Starts laughing again)

After the other boys had gone, my stepson looked at me and said that they were too stupid to get the joke. I must be stupid too because I didn't get that one.

Of course Columbine had not happened and I am equally dumbfounded at how kids think this is at all funny.

I'm not entirely sure it's meant to be funny. It's possible that the other kids are a bit scared of him or his behaviour. Maybe they wonder about his capacity to snap.

Now don't get me wrong. I don't believe that he is capable of violence, especially on the scale of a school shooting. I just don't know how or if I should approach his dad and suggest some kind of counselling.

You can get him help with his social skills.

Where would we go for that? I mean, what do we look for if we looked under the Yellow pages? Child psychologist? Is there some sort of specialist?


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RE: Stepson advice

Yes, talk to father, yes, address with school, and yes, get him to counseling. I'd also like to suggest that, if SS has any interests, that maybe there are groups that meet outside of his school. At this point it doesn't really matter if they are groups of peers, adults, all ages, whatever.

My point is that being "socially awkward" is very much in context of a particular social environment. I'm in IT; some pretty odd habits are allowable "social behavior" in that environment if you know your stuff. My brother's an engineer; same kind of thing. Brother can easily go an hour or two without speaking a word. So is it more socially awkward to chatter inanely to fill silence or to just sit in silence? That depends entirely on where you are and whom you're with.

So. SS doesn't fit in with cliques at high school. Whatever. HS will be over in a couple of years and never again will SS be subjected to the strange social environment that is high school. Help him try to make some friends outside of school if that's what it takes.

(I've got a HS reunion coming up. It's always amusing to me to realize how many of the "popular" kids at high school went pretty much nowhere with their lives, and how many of the outsiders are doing incredibly well - happy, healthy, well-adjusted, successful - and those are exactly some of the ones who were most "socially awkward" in high school.)


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RE: Stepson advice

Some of things you are describing about your SS also describe my SS16 perfectly. SS16 has very limited social skills. He has zero friends at school and from what little he tells us about his experience in highschool, it appears that most of the other kids think he's weird. And he does say some really strange and stupid things at times, that he thinks are so funny, but have DH and I shaking our heads and wondering. He does have ADHD and that explains a lot of his behaviours.

But, that said, SS has superior social skills around adults. He has excellent relationships with all his teachers and he's getting very good grades. He can sit and have an intelligent conversation with adults and all of our friends think he is an amazingly smart and funny kid. I think that when he's around kids his own age, he gets very self-concious and awkward and isn't sure how he's supposed to act. I think he feels he's being judged and that makes him nervous.

Has your SS ever been tested for ADHD? It may be something you and your DH need to talk about and perhaps look into. It will probably not make any difference as to how he interacts with people, but at least you'd have an explanation for why he is the way he is.

I agree with Mattie. Encourage him to join groups outside the school where he can meet new people and where he's not already labelled.


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RE: Stepson advice

Has your SS ever been tested for ADHD? It may be something you and your DH need to talk about and perhaps look into. It will probably not make any difference as to how he interacts with people, but at least you'd have an explanation for why he is the way he is.

Yes, when he was living with BM, she had also noticed strange behaviours and he was tested for ADHD, autism, even his IQ. Sometimes other kids ask my son if his stepbrother is mentally handicapped. He sometimes says things that remind you of a mentally handicapped child, but doesn't "look" like one, so some of them were confused as to whether is "slow" or not.

Average IQ, he gets average grades in school, no obvious ADHD or autism to the doctors. Nothing seems to be physically wrong.

DH is still mad with her that she thought something was "wrong" with SS. But if I'm seeing the same things as she was, perhaps there was something to what she was saying?

I guess that now raises the question as to whether my confronting him would make him think twice, or whether that would just get him upset with me.

Oh, and as a bit more background, I firmly believe that matters regarding SS are best left to his mother and father to decide. I try not to interfere. Also, BM is a pretty good mother and BM and DH agree on most things. There is no "child playing one parent off the other" or "BM is unfit" situation. She could not handle some of the things SS was doing when he came to live with us. We could not see these things at first but the same behaviours she described has become apparent to me since he's been living with us.


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RE: Stepson advice

I didn't read the rest after Po1 yet.. I realize I was unclear... I didn't mean don't go to the school. What I should have explained, I wouldn't recommend getting him into a program like my nephew is in at the school. It made the situation worse because it's a special Ed program where he is not really 'special ed' and he is aware of the things the kids say about him as his class walks by at lunch or in PE. Yes you should let the school know if he is being bullied-- I meant don't go to the school for social skills help. You can seek outside intervention from a therapist or work group for his age. An chances are, insurance will help with the cost.


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RE: Stepson advice

myfampg, i think it is unacceptable that kids make fun of special ed students in that school. If you aware of it, you could contact school so they put a stop to it. Also special education includes wide variety of disabilities, it is not just cognitive impairment. it could be emotional impairment etc etc

i do agree with myfampg that maybe private therapy is due.

On the other hand there are plenty of strange unusual weird awkard people out there, I don't think it is a big deal, they might be future millionaires. People are all different.

now you could all label me crazy but i think dog/skateboard joke is kind of funny, it doesn't make much sense to the other kids but it is kind of funny, the way unconventional kids see things as funny...maybe because I deal with teenagers my whole life due to my choice of career, I see things differently. What seems weird to others is fine with me because i see it every day. I get their dumb jokes too, i hear them all day long LOL

now of course stealing things or bullying are not appopriate things at all...So he might need to see a specialist in any case...


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RE: Stepson advice

"...there are plenty of strange unusual weird awkard people out there..."

boy howdy!


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RE: Stepson advice

Po1 my sister is there every day... They don't do anything. If she could change putting him in that program she would but it's too late... She does what she can. She makes herself KNOWN..


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myfampg

She can make a request at his IEP for him to be taken out of self-contained classroom and put him into general education setting, I don't understand what's too late, it can never be too late. If she disagrees with his placement, she can request hearing. Now of course if her son is a danger to others, is violent etc, district will win and he will remain in special education class no matter what the mother says. If you say that he has ODD, some students with this diagnosis have the hardest time functioning in general education setting and do so much better in a smaller group, but still your sister has options. i am not questioning you, I am just saying if he has IEP she has rights to make changes or request legal hearing.


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dog as a skateboard

http://www.cartoonbrew.com/shorts/dog-skateboard-by-nate-milton.html

It might not be the funniest joke out there...but really...it is a joke. I think the kid might be perfectly normal just maybe slightly unconventional.


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RE: Stepson advice

Po1 she already had a hearing. He was put in the program in 6th grade and he is going on to 9th now. Straight a's and is doing really well. Psychiatrist wrote a formal letter to have him removed but the school says the other kids are a danger to him, not the other way around. His ODD is controlled by behavior modification therapy (meaning himself) and he is on ADHD medication and I believe a mood stabilizer. She has considered changing districts all together but she would have to move.


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RE: Stepson advice

myfampg to all honesty if other children area danger to him maybe it is not a bad idea for him to be in a smaller group away from danger, hard to tell...Maybe they could at least try to put him in regular classes see how he does... good luck to him.


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RE: Stepson advice

I know I do agree. He's such a little guy too. I feel awful for him. Probably the worst part of being a parent. Protecting them. (the hardest job anyway)


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RE: Stepson advice

Well, brought it up with his dad. He won't hear any of it. So I've said my piece, it's up to his parents now.

Lady q, he is involved in other activities but he doesn't enjoy any of them, he eventually decides he doesn't want to continue them.

po1, it's not just one conversation, it's many. All of which he seems to be having a conversation unrelated to what the others are having, then injects comments.

Did you ever watch the next generation star trek? There was a character that was an android and was struggling to figure out human emotions and things like jokes, sarcasm, etc. When he attempted it, it was just off base each time. My SS reminds me so much of that character when he attempts to relate to other people. Not just jokes and conversations, but other social norms too.

The stealing thing I believe is now a past problem. Once the other kids discovered his stealing, I think it scared him into dropping that habit. It's not good to have the school hockey team pissed off at you for stealing things out of their gym bags. At least, we aren't aware of any incidents since then.

This year, we are dealing with the problem of rumours. He has discovered the power of starting rumors, unfortunately he doesn't think ahead to what happens when his lies are discovered. Just another phase I suppose, but it hasn't helped his ability to make friends.

Anyway, this is out of my hands. As others have said in other threads, not my child, not my problem. his dad will have to be willing to see it first.


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RE: Stepson advice

Hamilton, I understand. I have a hard time being socially appropriate as well. It's a learned skill for me. I had to practice and pay attention and it's a lot of effort.

For the people who "get" me, I'm a ton of fun, quirky and intelligent and have a great sense of humor. But a lot of the time it falls flat, which means I often am quiet. Which leads people to think I'm introverted.

Last week I went to a church event and I've been super quiet for three months now (new setting) but one of the senior clergy started talking to me and I just didn't stop chattering. Such an interesting conversation! And one of the ladies said something kind of snide about how now I decided to "warm up". No lady, I was always warm, I just didn't think I could control my snark and boredom talking to the rest of you about pudding recipes.

It's difficult.

I'd advise just talking to him and letting him know that people have expectations and there are norms that people follow.

Your SS may have been referring to the short PO1 posted, but regardless it's not funny. He interjected into a conversation with a comment that didn't apply. What does hating dogs have to do with anything? It doesn't make sense. And I think that's what the kids were responding to. If he could have shown them, or made a reference they would have understood, it may have worked. So much is comprehension and communication. There may be very little "wrong" with him except a lack of clear communication skills.


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RE: Stepson advice

If he trully cannot relate to others then he might have Asperger or ASD, maybe it could be addressed with his pediatrician.

But if it is not that clinical, then i don't see it as a problem. My DD and my nephew are not particularly conventional young people, my DD23 is nothing like everyone else I know of that age, they differ from main stream.

Luckily she attended high school where everyone was off, not a mainstream public school. If my DD attended regular public high school, she would not say a word to anybody and would be labeled socially awkward, she would have huge problems relating to the crowd. I am wondering if there are other options out there for SS, something less conventional


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RE: Stepson advice

I am wondering if there are other options out there for SS, something less conventional

Actually, he already attends an unconventional school. Both the boys do. It's a self-paced school with a gifted program, a sports academy and an arts program. It's also the unofficial choice for gay and lesbian teens. It's quite an eclectic group.

If he trully cannot relate to others then he might have Asperger or ASD, maybe it could be addressed with his pediatrician.

As I said above, his BM has already been through the doctors and tests because she was aware of the same thing.


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Social Skills

Hamilton, I understand. I have a hard time being socially appropriate as well. It's a learned skill for me. I had to practice and pay attention and it's a lot of effort.

I think this may be what he is going through. I've been trying to kind of guide or give advice to him on what may be appreciated by other people and what isn't. I suppose that may be the best thing to do. From your experience, will that help much?

I'm still trying to get through to him about excusing yourself if you have to pass gas, and that girls don't like it when you lift the bum cheek beside them.


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RE: Stepson advice

LOL. I'm not sure the lack of realization about the passing gas is "socially awkward" or just "teenage boy"...

I do not know if that will help your SS. That's what I tell my DD though. I tell her I want her to be welcome wherever she goes, that saying "please" and "thank you" aren't necessary, but they make people want to help you. You don't have to say them, and a lot don't, but your life will be easier if you do.

My social awkwardness comes more from not understanding superficiality. It takes a lot out of me to smile and not go below the surface. I am for sure not Aspergers or anything else... I just was not raised with the benign give and take that dominates most social conversations. I often make references to things people don't understand and my explanations are complicated (like the dog/skateboard, he probably could have explained it but by the time he did all the funny would have fallen out). He needs to work on delivery and timing. Perhaps an acting class would help? Or debate team, where he has to construct an argument?

Perhaps you can find something he's interested in and have 'planned' conversations. Discuss the merits of (pokemon?? I don't know what a young man would be interested in...lol) but find it and practice with him.

And maybe dad is the one who needs to talk about gas and what's appropriate in front of the 'ladies'.


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RE: Stepson advice

LOL. I'm not sure the lack of realization about the passing gas is "socially awkward" or just "teenage boy"...

lol, I know what you mean there. I'm the only girl in a house full of men. I just want to be sure he gets it. It's not just in front of girls, but in other social situations. Imagine his chances of getting a job if he lifts the bum cheek and lets on rip during his interview...lol

I laugh, but it's really not a joke. He really doesn't understand the difference. That, or if he starts muttering under his breath about unrelated topics during an interview or at work.

It's easy to pass him off as just an "unconventional kid", but he's about to turn 16 and in a few short years, he will be entering real life situations where his social behaviour WILL be a detriment.


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RE: I dunno....

Well, there's no such thing as a "normal" kid or "unconventional" kid, imo. There are individuals who make the choice to fit in or not to fit in (which is perfectly fine either way) but a lot of those who say they don't want to fit in simply don't have the skills to fit in and take the route of "I don't care". I think rather than branding a kid "unconventional" it's best to make sure they have the skills to be conventional if they need to. Sure, a kid can get by. I did. I was absolutely as unconventional as a person could be in high school and my parents thought it was "cute".

I don't think there's anything cute about a kid who doesn't behave properly in a given situation. And for the kid who isn't behaving poorly because they are acting out but because they simply do not know any better it's a gross disservice.

Example, I think kids need to learn table manners. They need to learn how to tell which fork to use first. Even if you are not a "conventional" family who serves on a white tablecloth with grandma's silver, the kid needs to learn 'just in case' they ever find themselves at the white house. Same with taking a hat off in a restaurant, opening doors for women, not touching every cookie, offering to your guest first, how to politely decline an invitation, helping a host with dishes (or the right way to offer help), returning a vehicle you borrowed with a full tank of gas, what time to arrive for a dinner party (never arrive early unless invited early!!) etc. There are social norms that must be understood. Once they are understood, an adult may choose to follow those norms or go out on their own path.

If the kids in the special school are thinking him weird he may think he needs to be weirder in order to stand out. Maybe he needs a talent or something that could help him stand out without being 'weird'? It may just be a way of getting attention.

It's BS. People in real life will shy away from you if you don't learn the social norms that make up your environment (may differ from town to town and region to region). Having the ability to perceive what is going on with others and "match" their tone is essential to social success.

That's what I find exhausting. Perception is everything. That's why I think an acting class may help. Having to determine what others are thinking/feeling without words and respond appropriately.

Also, consequences. If he does not behave in a way that others can tolerate he won't get invited to do things. This may not matter to him now, but maybe a trip to a college campus (they have ones where you can sleep over too) where an older boy can give him a little advice? Does he have any older male role models?

I don't think he has a good view of who he is, and I think that's the issue. He needs to see what it looks like to be appropriate and what it looks like to not be appropriate.

You don't have to like the same tv shows as everyone else, or the same clothing, or the same anything. You can be your own person and not be "unconventional". So many kids that age are simply carbon-copies because they are too scared to be themselves. That's why "unconventional" can be worn as a badge of honor. I'm "different". LOL. That's cool. Now can you get along with ten strangers in a submarine or will they throw you out first chance they get?

Being able to get along (not "fit in") with others is a crucial skill.

What was he like as a small child?


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RE: Stepson advice

farting in public is just bad manners. I grew up and spend my life around men/boys who would rather die than pass gas in front of others (unless severely ill or incapacitated). But I have met people who thought it was not a big deal to discuss bodily functions and pass gas or belch, they weren't bad people per se, just awful manners. What does his father say? At this point I think it is more than just being strange...That's rude.

I am glad he attends a different school, although with public farting he'd probably fit into a mainstream much better LOL


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RE: Stepson advice

Silver my dad is from the north where saying ma'am and sir is not really norm. When he moved to the south and everyone just expects it he is considered rude. He isn't rude he just wasn't raised to say it. It's not bad manners it's just a difference in culture. But my mom's parents (very southern) thought he was raised to be rude.

So I wasn't raised to say ma'am or sir and my husband demands my children to say yes maam or yes sir and to me it's awkward.

You describe yourself like my boss. She is very reserved and quiet. It's Like she sits off just taking it all in. I know her so I'm used to it and she doesn't try to get to the core of a person which I actually can appreciate. But others think she is 'awkward' or 'weird' or has no social skills. I've even heard her described as an introvert but that's not really what it is. I think it's Just her personality to not socialize in the way 'everyone' else in society expects. She has to be my favorite boss. I used to fly off the handle or internalize what people would say and she had taught me a lot about responses and how to 'think' before I speak. Sometimes if I ask her a question there is this awkward silence lol but it's just how she is. She is thinking. Lol she prefers to not have conflict or really any interaction. She prefers email and I couldn't ask for a better way to communicate with my boss! Lol


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RE: Stepson advice

Very good example Myfam. Sir and Ma'am can be very important. One side of my family is exactly like that. The other, not so much. And my grandfather would never think highly of a man who didn't take his hat off upon entering a house. First impressions can be everything, it just matters who is watching....

LOL. I am very reserved and quiet, until you get to know me. It often shocks people. A woman at temple the other night was remarking on that... saying that she had found me very reserved and was surprised to see me so social.

The reason I've come up with for my personality is I don't prefer small talk. I don't like office gossip. I prefer to do my work and go home. I have a hard time with soccer mom types and their petty talk. (no offense to any soccer moms out there, I played varsity and my dd plays now). If someone is interested in the same things I am and wants to discuss them I am very ready and easily excitable. But in general, I don't socialize the way others do. I abhor dinner parties and events in which I'm required to dress up and make someone else look good. I don't like having to prove myself or talk to people trying to one-up me. It makes me itchy. My DH and my Ex are both from wealthy families with good pedigrees and I've had to, at one time or another, plaster the fake smile on and mingle. But I will never make a good society wife. I inevitably find the one person in the crowd who has something interesting to say and we end up somewhere in a corner heatedly discussing one thing or another until someone comes to fetch me.

Until I became comfortable with myself and learned the graces of standing up for myself without making others uncomfortable (unless intentionally :) I struggled with social events. Now I just dislike them. I force myself to go to events for DD, and I mingle, and I say the right things. But it's mostly an exercise for me rather than something that comes natural.

I too prefer email for business interactions. It's to the point and having a paper trail is fabulous.


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RE: Stepson advice

Paper trail: the key to our office success lol


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