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Stepson causing issues with plans for more children

Elfinlady30Elfinlady30 member
First Comment
edited October 2014 in Family Matters
I am not sure if this is the right board, if its not, please let me know. 

We've been together for 9 years and my 18 year old step son came to live with us 7 months ago, after not having seen his dad in 12 years (not by the choice of dad). To put it bluntly, it has been complete hell for both of us.  We've always planned on having kids, but now my husband is saying that he is not sure he can actually be a parent if this is how his other kid turned out. I've tried telling him that he really has had no influence on his son and that the way he turned out is NOT because of my husband. But, my telling him this isn't working.  Does anyone have any thoughts on how I can help him understand this?

Thanks.  

Edited to clarify: He came to live with us because his mom kicked him out shortly after he turned 18 because he was picking fights with her new boyfriend and because she had a baby on the way. 

Re: Stepson causing issues with plans for more children

  • How come your DH didnt see him for 12 years? I know you say it was not by his choice but unless his BioMom had kidnapped him and squirreled him away on a remote island where no one in the world knew where he was , I kinda side eye the whole "not by his choice"

    Describe what you mean by hell. Have you set limits and boundaries on DSS and he wont follow them? Is he working or in school?

    As to your DH not having influence on his behavior, his absence has probably been the greatest influence on his sons life.

    I dont think you can help him understand this, I would imagine your DH is feeling a lot of guilt right now, seeing how his son turned out and will have to work through this himself.

    PS. The term Step kids vs new is very offensive to people wo have step children who are a beloved part of their family or are beloved step kids themselves.

  • No, he is not working and not in school. He dropped out of HS before he came here and now won't get his GED or take online classes to finish. He also won't get a job, do chores, be polite, be respectful, follow any sort of rules, or do ANYTHING, etc.  He tries to pit the two of us against each other, has stolen from us, lied to us repeatedly. He got kicked out of his mom's for this type of thing, plus getting physically violent with her until she called the cops...all because he didn't want to obey the rules. 

    His dad wasn't involved because he was "young, dumb, and an overly protective daddy" and made a comment to his ex about her new husband and my step son. It has haunted him since and his ex used that in court to get my husband removed from the picture.

    I'm not trying to be offensive in the least and will try to edit my title to be a little better! :)

  • The original plan was for him to come here, finish up his HS and then either start going to college or go to a trade school...depending on what he wanted to do. He was told before he got here that we weren't going to hold the issues he had with his mom against him, that he was starting with a clean slate here, but that it was up to him what he did with it.  

    My husband has tried to have him work with him when the job allows for it, paid him really well while it lasted, but that didn't work because my step son started refusing to work and throwing things at my husband (in front of customers) because he is "an adult now and you can't tell me what to do".  We introduced him to people here that were willing to help him get going a little, building confidence, and making a little money, he refused to do it and was rude to them. 

    We took him to a little tour/orientation type of thing at our local community college to see if it might spark his interest to finish HS. He then determined that he had no reason to finish HS because college was too much work. #-o

    He has tried to hit my husband a couple of times, the last time because my husband told him NOT to do something (put his hands near the blade of the operating chainsaw) and he (stepson) swung at my husband with a piece of wood (gave him a nasty bruise down the side of his face). 
  • Given the additional information I would have pressed charges for the assault and then invited him to leave. He wants to be an adult then he can be an adult. Guilt is no reason to put up with this sort of treatment.
  • I'm sorry, but he needs to go. ASAP

    Your husband missed the boat on being able to help raise him and help him grow into a productive adult. SS is at the stage now that he is going to have to learn at the school of hard knocks. 

    I would put having a child on the back burner for now. Your DH is overwhelmed by what is happening in your home and I don't blame him for not wanting a baby at this stage. Give him some time.

    Seriously, the SS needs to go.

    Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body. ~ Elizabeth Stone
    "Don't marry a man unless you would be PROUD to have a son exactly like him." ~ Unknown
  • This situation sounds terrible. Id say first if your step son starts getting violent dont put up with that! This kid sounds like he needs some serious tough love and therapy. Its not okay that he acts like that. It seems like its time to have a serious talk with your husband about this kid. You and your husband should not be bullies/ harassed by him. Your husband probable lets him get away with it because of his guilt for not being able(threw no fault of his own) to raise his kid.
  • I am not sure if this is the right board, if its not, please let me know. 

    We've been together for 9 years and my 18 year old step son came to live with us 7 months ago, after not having seen his dad in 12 years (not by the choice of dad). To put it bluntly, it has been complete hell for both of us.  We've always planned on having kids, but now my husband is saying that he is not sure he can actually be a parent if this is how his other kid turned out. I've tried telling him that he really has had no influence on his son and that the way he turned out is NOT because of my husband. But, my telling him this isn't working.  Does anyone have any thoughts on how I can help him understand this?

    Thanks.  

    Edited to clarify: He came to live with us because his mom kicked him out shortly after he turned 18 because he was picking fights with her new boyfriend and because she had a baby on the way. 
    The best thing to do:

    Show him the door and have him get his own place to live.

    You are not obligated to have him under your roof: he is an adult of majority age, which is 18.

    Let him find a job and go to work; he can find a studio apartment or even rent a room in a boarding house.

    This kid needed toughlove years ago. Willing to bet it got way out of hand.

    IF he is going to tsay in your home indefinitely:

    Sit him down and tell him there are rules:

    Keep his room clean, pick up after himself, do his own laundry, no very loud music, he is to treat you and your H civilly and do the same for anybody who crosses your threshold or for who also lives there.

    And if he is a student, he is responsible for his grades, his school attendance and anything "school."

    If he works, you collect room and board.

    Tell him that if he violates these rules, he's out the door, no questions asked.
  • Thanks everyone! We knew going in that it would be tough due to the separation, but we were not in the least prepared for this.  

    He tries to tell us when we need to go to bed (he goes to bed before we do) so that our having lights on and talking doesn't keep him up...he can shut his door and we aren't that loud.  Tries to tell us what we can watch on TV...it has to be something HE wants to watch. 

    We've tried talking it out with him, taking away any sort of privileges, yelling, ordering him to his room, etc. Nothing makes a dent.  My husband knows we can't "let him get away with it", but how do you punish an adult?  

    We've been hesitant to just kick him out because we live 3 states away from his mom and any friends, plus with know GED and no work skills (he can't/won't even wash dishes)...no one out here would hire him. We live in a rural area with a few small towns, so his options are limited anyway. My husband is worried that if we just buy him a bus ticket back to where his mom is, that he will just end up doing drugs or something like that. His mom won't let him stay with her even for a night and neither will any of his grandparents who live in the same area because he is nothing but a problem for everyone.  

    If we tell him he has to do chores or he doesn't eat (ok, I know this sounds mean, but he has money and we are walking distance from a small store where he can get food if he wants it), he just breaks whatever it is (lawnmower, dishes, rake...) so that he doesn't have to do it any more. 

    We are honestly at a complete loss as to how to handle it, aside from just plain old kicking him out...which we are trying not to do for his sake. 

    Every day, its the same thing and he just refuses to make any changes. It takes a huge blow up for him to even take a shower (he's gone 4 weeks without a shower). 

    Sorry this is so long, I think I just needed to vent. 
  • OtterJOtterJ member
    Fourth Anniversary 100 Comments 25 Love Its Name Dropper
    edited October 2014
    I know that this isn't going to be a very popular opinion....

    I agree that tough love is great.  However, before tough love can be effective, someone has to be just loved.  He has to feel secure and wanted.  I know that you tried to offer him some of this when he came, but when someone has been damaged emotionally, it can take a while for new offerings of love or support to sink in. 

    From what little we know about him, his past includes: 
    His mother purposefully cut his biological father out of his life. 
    His mother and step-dad divorced
    His mother sided against him with her new boyfriend, and kicked him out of her life. 

    He has been nothing but abandoned by multiple temporary father figures, and his mother.  That's got to create some serious fears of abandonment, insecurity, self-doubt, self-hatred, distrust, and defiance towards any kind of authority.  When I first read that your adult step-son was going to move in with you after not seeing his father for 12 years, the first thing that popped into my head was "that child is going to have some serious issues." 

    As silly as it sounds - going to bed earlier to show your son that you were willing to adjust to some of his needs would have been an easy way to show that you actually want him there.  Something like that might not have been a big deal to you, but it could have been an early indicator to him that you saw him as an inconvenience.  Allowing someone to move in with you (anyone - child, roommate, significant other) means that your life, your schedule, your TV shows of choice - they will all change to some degree. 

    While your husband is his father, they have no foundation upon which to build a parent/child relationship complete with "follow my rules or else" authority.  Your son is an adult, and even though he wants to act like a child at times, treating him like a little kid by sending him to his room probably won't help him build his confidence or grow in maturity.  The dynamics of a parent/child relationship once the child becomes an adult is already difficult to navigate.  In your situation, there are a lot of complications making it even more difficult. 

    For one, your step-son basically came to you both as a stranger.  Aside from trying to work together, has your husband spent a lot of time just getting to know his son?  Fishing, movies, playing or watching sports, etc.?  A person can change a lot in 12 years, so they have a lot of missed bonding to do.

    It's even possible that since he missed out on having a steady father growing up, he's regressing to a child-like status to get the father/son relationship that he desired to have in his early teen years.  That could be really going out on a limb though....that's something for therapy to help you figure out!

    Kicking him out and letting him sink or swim on his own sounds like a good "this is for your own good" option, but you already acknowledged that the chances of him sinking are too high for you to take that risk right now.  I think before you go down that road, you should attempt family counseling.  Even if he doesn't want to attend at first, you and your husband going together will help you learn how to build a relationship with, and how to best encourage your son to become the adult that he claims to be. 

    I really do think it's wonderful that you're both willing to take him in, and that you want the best for him.  It's difficult now, but one day he'll thank you for it.
  • OtterJ- 

    I appreciate your reply, and I think I understand what you are getting at. 

    To answer some of your questions, yes his dad has tried to spend as much time as possible with him as he has really missed his son (he had custody when they first got divorced). Which was actually the main reason behind bringing him to work. He has taken him fishing, hiking, on short road trips, watched movies, made cookies, teaching him how to cook, going swimming, played games....neither of them is really into team sports, so that doesn't apply. And honestly, a lot of time was spent (earlier on) catching up on hugs, talking through the divorce, and a lot of tears on both sides. 

    The going to bed issue is a kind of sore point with me. My step son goes to bed very, very early (8:30PM) and we normally go to bed at 9:30 or 10, which is still a reasonable hour by most standards. I really don't feel like I should have to give up my evening routine of reading or having a quiet conversation with my husband to go to bed at an hour that will cause me to be awake at 3AM, ready to start my day but unable to because my step son protests if I get up earlier than he does.  And, the other issue is that...if we go to bed earlier our sex life goes to zero instantly. This is because my step son gets up, listens outside our door, and (even if we are just talking as we get ready for bed) knocks on the door to say "I know you are having sex, I can hear you". We've talked to him about respecting privacy and boundaries, but he won't stop. So, we just wait until he is asleep to go to bed. 

    We do include him, most of the time, in our movie or TV choices...its not an issue. The issue comes in when he and his dad are gone or he is doing something else and I/we are in the middle of watching something that he happens to not want to watch and we get told that we need to turn it off and watch something else. 

    Originally, we did not do the whole "our rules or else". We figured that since he was 18 and not use to our house that we would go with the flow for a while and then ease in to some sort of routine. But, we did have a basic set of requirements that we felt were reasonable.
    Be polite (we are polite to him, so expect the same)
    Don't purposely damage the house or someone else's property/belongings (accidents happen)
    Be nice to the pets

    With this arrangement, everything was fine. The attitude started when we asked him to clear his plate off the table or make his bed....or something simple like that. And, of course, when we brought up finishing his HS (even though it had been thoroughly discussed prior to his arrival), getting a driver's license, or getting a job since he wanted money. 

    My stepson has been to therapy for a long time, it seems to make his attitude worse and makes him lose confidence as he becomes dependent on the therapist and won't do anything (wouldn't go fishing with his dad until he got the ok from the therapist). 

  • Thank you for the clarifications and additional information. 

    Now I'm stumped....

    Even with the new information, I can still understand your hesitation towards kicking him out as a solution.  The only thing that I can think of is maybe he needed a much longer adjustment period than what was expected, or what would normally be reasonable. 

    I'm glad that your son is in therapy, although, I still recommend a family counselor.  Going to therapy with him might help him become less dependent on the therapist, and it might help give you the tools or strategies that you need to cope with & help him. 

    Also, I agree that needing privacy in your bedroom at any time of day or night is definitely a very justifiable and necessary boundary for you to have in place.  Get him a pair of ear plugs.
  • We actually DID get him earplugs, ipod...that didn't help.  His point is "I can't hear you in my room, but I know you are talking or having sex and I need to know everything that's going on in this house." So, he can't actually HEAR us in his room...so he listens outside our door.  :(
  • The listening outside your door thing is very weird!!! He seems to have issues with boundaries. He doesn't seem to have a lot of social skills that normal people do. Most people know that listening in on parents having sex is wrong and just plain creepy. He also sounds very very immature. There needs to be consequences when he misbehaves.
  • You are not helping him by having him live at your home.

    I honestly don't know what will help him as there seems to be some mental health issues involved.  

    I would talk to a family counselor who specializes in issues like this.  
  • I think your step son may need advanced mental health care...boundaries, not showering for 4 weeks, listening at your door, controlling the household (bedtimes, TV, etc.) this doesn't sound like the "average" disgruntled older teen/young man who's just being a jerk and pouting because he's not getting his own way. This sounds like a bigger problem.

    I agree with the PPs, this young man needs to leave your home. I agree he cannot go back to his mother's place, but you may need/want to check out some mental health care options - I think he may be past the family counselor sort of option and into needing some type of care with more permanent intervention.

    Unless he gets help, he will just get worse and may become a harm or hazard to himself or others.

  • I'm thinking a trip to local recruiters office may be a good call. Having him enlist into the service might be the right path for him at this point of his life.  It's better then having to call the cops on him, which sounds like is going to end up happening sooner or later. They will take him and help him get some focus in his life. It won't be easy for him, but it's better then being in jail or homeless.
  • You may have better luck approaching MTV with a new reality show pitch. 

    With all the drama at least you could make some money out of it.
    image

    Chronically hilarious - you'll split your stitches!
    I wrote a book! Bucket list CHECK!
  • I don't know how much help I can offer, but I can empathize with him. I was very much like him except a bit younger 13-17ish. Growing up was hell in a lot of ways and it caused some very deep rooted issues that I acted out big time. I tried everything I could to push people away, weird them out, piss them off to see if they would leave. Most all did and that just worsened my issues because in my mind no one cared about me enough to push through the bad. In my mind I was only cared for in the sense that I was a paycheck or charity case or they felt too guilty to get rid of me like they secretly wanted to. I didn't trust anyone at all and still struggle with this massively. I always felt like everyone was lying all the time, especially if whatever they were saying indicated they cared about me. All I wanted at that point was someone to just stay no matter what.

    On the sex/outside door thing: I know it seems extremely creepy. But, even though I never went that far, I get where he is coming from. I don't want to get into a ton of detail but while growing up, mom and whoever at the time having sex took priority over everything. That's all they seemed to care about. Once I moved in with other couples my trust issues came up worse at times that I knew they were or should be having sex. In my mind at the time I thought that while they were doing it they were also talking about me/ making fun of me/ complaining about what a horrible person I was because that's what I grew up hearing/witnessing/and being involved in. I never got the chance to go to therapy for any decent length of time, but I can say, if this particular therapist makes him worse find a different one because they don't click. Therapy isn't something that a patient can just go to anyone and be fixed, the patient and doctor have to click. I had a couple of therapists that I hated and they didn't do anything wrong I just couldn't talk to them. I did have one that I wish I could still see that I could talk to about anything and everything. I hope this adds some perspective.
    Some of my work.


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  • Put him in Jobcorps.
    Some of my work.


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