L.W. asks from Mesa, AZ on September 26, 2009
12 Year Old Step Son
My husband still on insists on starting my step-son's shower, help him dry off, pick out his clothes, dress him, put his shoes on him and tie his shoes for him. He also still cuts his meat for him as well. I know my step-son can do all of this on his own, he is very smart, start a student. My husband says its more for him (my husband) than our son. My 15 year old step daughter gets upset with all the attention that this brings and I think it is ridiculous that he is still doing this for a 12 year old.
I think it emotionally hurts the step-son keeping him a helpless baby but I can't get my husband to see that.
How much damage is this really doing to my son emotionally - I know it does affect my step daughter.
So What Happened?™
Thanks everyone for the advice. I know that there is no sexual abuse going on, I use to be a sex crimes investigator. I plan on taking alot of the advise given. I'll keep you updated. Wish me luck.
S.T. answers from Phoenix on September 27, 2009
His dad needs to get that he is 12yrs old, my son is almost 5(will be in nov), i am trying to get him to do things on his own, because hes getting to that age where he can do it himself, with my son when i try to get him to do it himself he whines about it, and thats nto a very good sign, he is also a little slow, because his dexerity with his fingers are not that good. gl.
R.E. answers from Santa Fe on September 27, 2009
I have been an elementary school teacher for 35 years. This behavior does not help your step-son to be independent. For your son to develop a healthy sense of accomplishment he needs to do these things for himself, otherwise how will he learn from his mistakes? It also seems to be a way for your husband to keep control over him. Even a developmentally disabled child is encouraged to do these things by him or herself by the age of 4 or 5. It seems like something else may be going on here, as I mentioned-control, from fear, over-protectiveness. No one is the bad guy here, perhaps misinformed or anxious? I am not a therapist. Would your husband be willing to go for counseling? Good luck! Regards, R.
2 moms found this helpful
M.L. answers from Phoenix on September 27, 2009
Hi L.. Your husband is right is is just for him. However what he doesn' see is the unatural dependency that he is creating in his (your) son. He is also going to affect his self esteem and create a child who will not respect him as much when he gets older. It is probably a guilt thing or a case where he doesn't feel his son can do it as well on his own, which is a trust thing. either way your job is to insinutae the results in a loving and kind way. Don't allow him to create a line between the family by causing him to be defensive. as for yur daughter teach her to be thankful that it's not her. Help her to be compassionate to the situation and she can even learn to help by empowering her brother. By being lovingly suggestive to. Give him examples of the same situations with out connecting it directly to him. and do the i wonder if other kids his age are more independent speeches too.
J.K. answers from Phoenix on September 26, 2009
He shouldn't be doing this for your son. It's not healthy...
C.R. answers from Las Cruces on September 27, 2009
Yes, the behavior you described is excessive and inappropriate. Unless your step son has some kind of developmental disability, which you have said he doesn't, this stuff is over the line. Tying his shoes for him is odd, but the showering, drying off, and dressing help is really, really inappropriate. I understand that sometimes divorced parents over-do for their kids in some way out of guilt. I also get that desire to want to keep your youngest a "baby" for as long as possible. At 12, this young man needs to take care of his own showering and dressing - end of story. Someone mentioned this and I'd like to say it again, what happens in a few years when he turns 18, goes to college and has never even dried himself off or dressed himself?
It sounds like your husband has some repair work to do with his relationship with his daughter and my advice there is to do it while she still has a desire to repair the relationship, since soon there is a chance that she is going to be too hurt and shut him out.
Being the step parent, this is a delicate situation for you. Did the kids or your husband do any kind of counseling during or after the divorce? If so, it would make sense to go back in for a few sessions (if they felt that person was helpful) or to find a family counselor to support the independence issues and healing the relationship with his daughter. Good luck to all of you.
E.M. answers from Phoenix on September 27, 2009
Sounds like your husband's addiction to this kind of excessive "care" is a deep problem. The good thing is that he can see it for what it is...something he does for himself, not his child.
But there may be denial too. Esp if your husband will not see the pain it causes his own daughter.
But you can't change someone not willing to change. Your husband has to want it. Prioritize it. You know better if he sees the serious nature of this. If he does not...maybe he should have some one-on-one time with his daughter...who should then be encouraged to tell him how she feels.
I can't believe the 12-year-old is completely clueless that this is not normal either. (If his friends saw all this???) How does he feel?...I wonder. He may enjoy the attention, but secretly wish it took some other form.
Sounds like you might start with talking (privately)to the adult (husband) first. You might emphasize that parenting is something we are supposed to do more for the child's benefit than our own....long term results really count here. Try to get him on board...either in your own plan (channel his "care" energies elsewhere) or with some kind of family counseling. Best of luck to you!
D.G. answers from Phoenix on September 27, 2009
I just read a wonderful book called:
"The Parenting Breakthrough: Real-Life Plan to Teach Kids to Work, Save Money, and Be Truly Independent" (Paperback)
by Merrilee Browne Boyack
I highly recommend it!
you can find it on Amazon here:
We are raising adults here, not babies!
Entertaining book filled with comical stories.
The front cover is inspiring at the least!
Enjoy & the best to you & yours!
C.C. answers from Flagstaff on September 27, 2009
My nephew who recently turned 18 was treated similarly by his mom. He even shared her bed until he was 12 or so. She did everything for him. His grades suffered in school the older he got because he did not learn to work or do anything independently. He also put on an extreme amount of weight in junior high and high school. (Think 5'10" and 350 lbs.) He has just recently graduated from high school (by the skin of his teeth), but he has no desire to do anything. He's not going to college or working or anything...just living with his mom. His self-esteem is extremely poor and he just sits around all day watching TV and playing video games. The emotional damage is obvious to all of us on the outside, and we try to do what we can to encourage him.
I know this is an extreme example, but you need to know what can happen. Please, if you can, convince your husband to talk to someone on the outside about the situation (a counselor). Maybe he would agree to listen the opinion of someone else. You could even tell him that you would agree to go with whatever advice the counselor gave. It would be so unfortunate for your son to end up like my nephew.
Also, make sure you tell your son every day what a wonderful person he is (and your daughter too) and that you think he will go far in life. It will make a big difference in the long run. Your step-kids are lucky to have such a caring step-mom.
R.G. answers from Washington DC on September 26, 2009
Often times, divorced parents of children tend to spoil their kids in an effort to make up for the break-up (no matter who is perceived to be at fault for the divorce/break-up). It's important to break this cycle by showing lots and lots of love through the various stages associated with growing up. For example, lovingly demanding that the child tie his own shoes without attaching any sort of grand meaning to it. Just a simple: "You'll need to tie your own shoe right now." Not: "There will be no more shoe tying for you . . . ever again!" Take things one item at a time!
Certainly your husband is going overboard in pampering his son, but what specific damage are you seeing being done? Is this child unable to anything for himself, or is he just taking advantage of his father's guilt? If it is the latter, it will be very agitating for you to watch, but will probably not result in much long term damage. What will be forever damaging, however, is if you overstep your boundaries as a step parent. Don't try and take over. Keep suggesting what your good sense obviously tells you to your husband and he will probably step right up due his great love for his children.