Help Please, I'm Close to Letting a Child Ruin My Marriage.

Updated on October 05, 2016
T.A. asks from Beverly Hills, CA
26 answers

I'm new here, and before I go any further, I would like to say unless you've been in my shoes then please only post helpful comments, really don't need the "step mom bashing" as I've seen.

My DH and I have been married for almost 11yrs, we get along great ( really) with the exception of my step child. My step son is almost 12 we have joint legal 50/50 split of each week, and he is the ONLY thing my DH and I argue about. This child is the modern day version of "Eddie Haskell" for those of you old enough to know who that is..
he is deceitful 80% of the time, gets in trouble at school (disrespectful towards teachers) has bully tendencies, is sneaky, and has now started to steal from siblings. My DH is really strict with the other children, but this one just seems to be treated like a goldned child ( which he is the polar opposite of). I'm a SAHM so the care of the kids ( all of them) is primarily on me.
I'm so tired of the phone calls from teachers, the horrid behavior around the house, I just don't know what to do anymore. My DH just doesn't punish this child accordingly, he goes "easier" on him then on the kids that are hardly ever in trouble, the other kids are good kids who only get in the typical kind of trouble but nerve anything serious. The thing that I'm most worried about is, this child will act as if he is perfect in front of his Dad, like run ahead and open doors for me if we're out, or offer to help me do the dishes after dinner ( but while he's offering me this "help" there is a disturbing look on his face) he NEVER does any of these things when his Dad is not around, when Dad who works long hours 6 days a week isn't home, he refuses to do chores, gives me shoulder shrugs or eyerolls when asked, he has gotten violent with my other son. When something happens where he must be dealt with for a punishment my DH "will give him a stern talking to" well this doesn't work bc he just continues to not only repeat these behaviors but usually ups the ante by doing something worse.
This morning I caiught him stealing, hubby gave him a "talk".
This is where the agreements between DH and I come to play, he refuses to see his son for what he really is, or for the bad behaviors, it's like he's completely blind to it, even my DHs mother has seen it, along with all of my family, and most of our friends have commented on his behavior, some have gone as saying "there's something not right with him" And quite frankly I'm so tired of it all. And now I not only have a child in my house that shows me no respect when Dads not around, and constantly lies ( and I mean constantly) but now I have to live with someone 4 days a week who is stealing ! I can't stand a thief or a lier and my step son is both SEVERELY. I'm afraid that there are some psychiatric issues going on with him, and I'm afraid of what the future holds if his behaviors are left to continue. I don't want to live like this anymore. I love my Husband immensely, but I can't continue with his son like this any further. I'm starting to feel resentment, and anger, and I believe that this is causing me depression. I dread the day he returns from his BioMoms house, and I get to go back to trying to parent him. I've come to hate Wednesdays, ( that's when he comes home to us). I don't want to feel like this. My DH and I fight over it, he feels I'm "picking" at my step son, and that just infuriates me, bc that is not the case and I think deep down my husband knows this. And what really confuses me is I have a 26 yo step son, who my husband didn't parent like he's doing with the younger one. He was really strict with my oldest step son. My oldest step son actually gets upset when he comes by and sees how his YOUNGER brother is allowed to behave, he's stated " my Dada would of whipped by butt if I ever acted like that" unfortunately I think this has also put a strain on the realationship between my DH and my eldest step son, who's a really good young man. But he very really vists ( he does leave several states always now though) but I get more phone calls from my eldest step son then my DH does.

Please any advice anyone can offer would be of great appreciation.

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So What Happened?

There was so many helpful comments, thank you all.
I haven't found a respond option on here yet, not sure there is one. Before I go into yesterday's events ( and Monday's are never our day) I would like the address some of the questions asked..

My DH and bio mom were never married, nor even in a long term relationship, step son was a result of a fling as my husband calls it. Yes I was with my hubby ( Dating) while my stepson was in utero, my DH didn't find out about stepson until a week before biomom gave birth, he had stopped seeing her 8 months prior. Yes he's had a DNA test. I'm not going to bash biomom, but I will say there is very little to no interaction between DH and biomom, this is not due to my DH, biomom is a extremely self centered immature type of person, her priorities are not parenting, this is how my DH ended up with a 50/50 spilt, she gave it up willingly. My DH does not have the type of job that allows him to just leave the office if there's a problem at school, this and the fact that our other son attend the same private school is why I'm called by school staff ( teachers, principals, etc) bio mom does not answer nor return phone calls from school, she very rarely attends any school functions such as open house,or conferences (that is all me) I think my DH has made it to 1 in his 7 years of schooling. Yes, DH does do things with the boys, Sundays ( his only day off) is always fun day, he will book day fishing trips, go to movies, trail riding with the Atvs, etc..and we are fortunate enough to be able to take a few family vacations a year. As far as me disciplining my SS, biomom made it very clear from the beginning that I was not to in anyway be a disciplinarian to "HER child" I don't know how she disciplines him, or if she even does at all.
Yes school has gotten involved, he is on a behavior modification program, it's not helping. Since I do ALL of the doctors visits, yes I have brought it up to our pediatrician, he of coarse has recommend thearpys, but both parents must sign off any kind of treatment like that, and biomom has refused it, during a email conversation between her and DH she stated, that "kids will be kids, he will grow out of it". So I hit a road block there.
My son, is only a year and a half younger then SS, and he his a happy heathy boy, he's never gotten in trouble in school, he gets very good grades, and he treats no adult with disrespect. So to the person that said I've raised my stepson and he has these issues maybe it's me, then why would my child that is raised the same way by me, attends the same school, display complete opposite behaviors ? In my post I wrote my SS has become violent with my other son, one I used the term other son, bc in my day to day life, I do not refer to my SS as "stepson" I only did on here for clarity. I wrote becomes violent, because he is not violent all the time, we've had 3 incidents that I describe as violent, while on vacation we were ziplining, ss got upset that his brother was put on the zip line first and in front of him, after a few platforms SS pushed past people ( that were NOT with our group ) went up to my son and starting punching him several times hard in the head, the only reason there were not injuries was because he had a helmet on. SS hurt his hand, my DH deemed that has "he learned" then zipline guiedes then took step son and made him stay with them. Incident 2 was a punch to the chest, and SS threw his arms up and yelled, "what you afraid of me" to my son, lastly incident 3 was yet another punch to the chest but with a kick added" I don't believe this to be normal sibling fights.
I'm not sure why my husbands parenting style has gone from one extreme to the other with SS, but this child needs more then just a talking to. A grounding, removing things from his room, taking away items anything other then the "talking to". I don't know the answer but I know the definition of insanity and the "talks" are becoming that, they just don't work.
I'm not trying to label this child, but what else to do you say about someone who lies continually? Liar. What do you say about someone who steals, and who knows they are stealing? Theif. I don't know of any other way to discribe it.
He is not a child of divorce, he never endured a spilt of his bioparents, back and forth is all he has ever known. So I dont think it's the fact he's upset about his parents not being together. I do however think the 50/50 spilt is to much, not only is he spilt between our to households, were I'm sure they're are different rules and expectations, but we know that a lot of biomoms time, he his at his grandparents house for a day or two, or left with a sitter. That's 3 houses, 3 different bedrooms, I'm pretty sure the kid doesn't know if he's coming or going half the time. But that is out of my hands, we can't get more then the 50/50 and his biomom is not willing to take more time. That puts us at an impass.
Sorry this has been so long, there were quite a few questions to address. My update is, again yesterday afternoon I was called by school ( school had left biomom 2 voice messages, and sent an email with no response from her) so even though it was not our day, I was asked to come into school (again)SS had been written up again, this time for rolling his eyes at his teacher after he refused to do something that she had asked of him, his explanation "I don't know, she's mean and I don't like her" this was his 3rd write up in 3 weeks, he's already receive detetion during recess and lunch, now he will spend the next week with a after school 2 hour writing detention, one more write up and he's suspended. After speaking with our school social worker yesterday, she has agreed to write a detailed letter about the school behavior, the modification program he's on, and what she sees from him. I spoke with DH last night, but this time I was more forceful, i let him know that the behaviors displayed by DH are not normal behaviors of a 12 yo, that's it's NOT acceptable that HE ALLOWS it, it's NOT acceptable to me anymore that he disciplines SS differently ( the talks) then our other son. I let him know that if his actions are driven by guilt of some kind then he had better figure out a way to get OVER IT, I will not let our 10yo be treated more harshly for even the most minor of behaviors, when SS is allowed to do what he's doing. My DH is not use to me displaying that much force with him, and he surely isn't use to me challenging him on something he doesn't think he's doing wrong. I purposed we contact our attorneys, and go back to court with the letter from the school social worker, so my DH can try to get 100% of all medical decisions. This would allow us to get SS into counseling. He agreed !! I know this isn't an instant fix but it's a start. The social worker also wants us to have SS tested for oppositional defiant disorder O.O.D this was the first time I've heard of that disorder.
Thank you all for the great advice, I did listen and take all of it for considerations.

Featured Answers


answers from San Francisco on

Well, what have you actually DONE about this? Have you talked to his doctor, gotten a referral for a child therapist? Are you working with his teachers and the school psychologist? If he's getting in as much trouble as you say he is I assume the school is involved.
You can't just "punish" this kind of behavior away, this kid clearly needs help, possibly professional help.
This child and his problems aren't going to go away or get better without outside support, I hope you seek it, and soon.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

You SS is out of control. He is acting out for a reason. Maybe he hates you? Maybe he hates dad? Maybe he hates bioMom? Maybe he hates school? Maybe he hates switching houses (just because the 50/50 works for the parents, doesn't mean it works for him). He needs counseling! He needs a safe place for him to tell someone how he feels (counselor).

I've had many friends/family members go through divorce. So many times the kids are just expected to "deal with it". They need help dealing with it.

Best of luck!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Santa Barbara on

At what point did you start resenting him? You knew the baby probably as a newborn and married around his first birthday. Why are all of the kids being treated differently. Does he feel guilty that he remarried when he had a young baby? Family therapy!

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answers from Boston on

I'm a stepmother, so I understand a lot of how you are caught in the middle.

You have had this child in your life for his entire life, right? He was an infant when you and your husband started dating, and you've been his stepmother for 11 years. When did this trouble start? When did your husband "check out" of the parenting process.

You are the stepmom. I don't understand why you are getting calls from school. You give your husband's cell and office numbers to the school, and he and his ex wife can co-parent to manage their son's behavior. Your husband can damn well come home from the office on Wednesdays & Thursdays, and other days when his son joins your family. He has abdicated all kinds of responsibility here, and dumped it on to you. HE is the one disrespecting you, and his son has learned to do the same thing. And you're putting up with it.

So, tell the school that "I'm sorry, you need to talk to his parents about that" and give them the 2 parents' numbers and emails. Get counseling - now - for yourself and your marriage to figure out why you allow this, and what strategies you can use to urge your husband into a more checked-in parenting and marital style. If there are psychiatric issues possibly at play and you can't get the bio parents to take an interest, you can certainly report your concerns to the pediatrician. The doctor can't share info with you without permission, and under the circumstances, I think you need to back away from those issues. But you CAN communicate concerns to the doctor and have those come up during the child's visits with whichever bio parent takes him. (I'm guessing your husband doesn't get involved in that either.)

I do think that labeling a child "a liar" and "a thief" is really strong - and I agree that you have to label the actions and not the child. I think it's very possible that, after 11 years, your SS has absolutely figured out how to push your buttons. He's begging for attention, and his father isn't around much, so he may be taking out his anger and resentment on the only available adult: you.

You need absolute professional help because your bio children are watching all of this, and this is how everyone is learning how to be a kid (lie, cheat, steal, manipulate?) and this is how they are all learning to have a marital relationship. I don't think anyone is modeling the behavior you want your kids to display as adults.

Your stepson may have major issues. We can't tell. But he's entering the big hormonal phase of the teen years, and you need to address this now. But your larger problem is a marriage issue, and I think that's where you start so that you two can be a united front where no child (not yours, not his) gets away with pulling a fast one.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

Sounds like your husband went from one extreme to the other. Perhaps his parenting of his older son was too strict and he regrets it. If that son calls you more often than he calls his dad, there is clearly an issue in that relationship. Perhaps your husband feels guilty over that and as an answer, is too lenient with his younger son. If you have been married for almost 11 years to a man who has a 12 year old son, then his prior marriage broke up when his son was an infant (or still in utero). He probably feels pretty guilty and awful about that too.

In any case, you all clearly need some family counseling. Make an appointment and go. If he doesn't want to come with you at first, then you go alone and get some help for yourself first and you can work on getting him as your SS to go later.

Also if the bio mom is a decent person, talk to her. See if she is getting the same phone calls from school, the same feedback, and has the same concerns. If she does, as his mother, she can get him to counseling without your husband's permission (depending on the clinician, some insist on sign-off from both parents).

In the meantime, stop labeling your SS. He's not a thief and a liar, he's a boy who sometimes takes what isn't his and sometimes doesn't tell the truth. Those are problem behaviors that can indicate other issues. See them as the symptoms they are. When you label him this way, you are no longer on the same team. This isn't about him vs. you or your other children, this is about a boy who has some issues and the adults in his life working together to help him. Keep that your focus or your husband is only going to see this as you picking on his kid, whom he will then defend, even irrationally. Counseling for all of you will really help.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

You have been married for 11 years to an almost 12 year old, so you have raised this child. The question is why did you raise him differently? I have been a stay at home mom, divorced, single mom, married again and it is the one at home that raises the child. So if you were going all wait till your dad gets home but actually disciplining your bio kids, treating your bio kids differently, there is a huge chunk of your problem right there.

I agree with others, family counseling.

What is different about your husband's older son? You had no hand in raising him.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Honolulu on

It seems to me that a child who can control his behaviors, turn them on and off, act perfectly acceptably in front of one person and horribly in front of others, has less of a psychiatric problem and more of a disciplinary, manipulative problem. Of course, there may be underlying psychiatric issues, but it sounds like this boy is trying to create a disruptive situation, trying to get his dad's attention, and possibly trying to split you and your dh up (not so much to get rid of you, but so that he has his dad all to himself).

What happens when he gets in trouble at school? Are there consequences there (detentions, etc)? And does his dad know about them? Would a school counselor who is aware of the seriousness of his school problems ask his dad and you to (specifically together) to come in for a meeting, where his actions and attitudes and bully tendencies are laid on the table, with a caution about where the boy is headed, and some ways about how to deal with his behavior? This might open his dad's eyes.

How is his behavior at his bio-mom's house? Do you speak to her? Is she worried as well?

Would this older step-son have a talk with his dad?

Have you talked with a counselor, specifically about the lying, stealing, physical aggression towards your other child?

What kinds of things is he stealing (money, items, jewelry)?

Has he actually injured your other children, or does he just threaten? If he flies into a rage, would you be willing to call 911 right then?

It sounds like your step-son is desperate for his dad's attention. Those "talking-to" sessions are probably just want he wants. Does his dad do anything with him, like go bowling, play ball, anything? Or is the interaction limited to getting talked to?

I hope you can get your dh to listen to you, or a school counselor. How far are you willing to go?

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Jacksonville on

I cannot say that I have been in your shoes. I haven't.

But my first thoughts were much in line with Cheryl B's. Don't deal with the fallout from school. Let it be Dad's problem. So far, it isn't a problem enough for dad to bother doing anything more than talking to son. Once Dad gets interrupted at work a few times, has to actually have a discussion with the school about what is going on, then he'll come on board most likely.
Stepson is playing you against each other obviously. The Whys are best left to a counselor to sort out. But step out of that dynamic, and just let Dad do it. Dad will get upset with you for this. He won't like that you are removing yourself from it. That he has to face it. Be prepared to respond to that. Frankly, I'd simply tell him that you have tried to get him to understand it's a bigger problem and you are beyond your limit, so you are stepping aside. Don't be the go-between. Let the school talk directly to him. If he has to take an hour or two off of work to go in to meet with the school, so be it.

But, I haven't been there with a stepchild situation. Men can be quite determined not to see what is in front of them at times. Good luck.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Las Vegas on

ETA after your SWH: Thank you for sharing this update! So often, after thoughtful, but difficult responses/advice to hear, posters get mad, make excuses, and just leave. It is nice to know that you took the advice to heart and made something happen. You seem to be the only adult in this boy's life who actively parents him on a consistent basis. It is a great step that you and your husband are seeking legal control of your step-son's medical concerns.
It's probably going to be a fight, but make sure you have all the documentation from the school regarding his behavior, all of the phone calls from the school, detention records, notes from the social worker available when bio mom tries to argue against him getting treatment. Any reasonable person can see this child is headed for trouble without significant interventions.

I just want to point out one more thing. Your husband is abdicating his parental responsibilities by refusing to appropriately engage with and discipline his son, and this, as well as your step-son's behavior, must be addressed. You can't just drop your step-son at the therapist's doorstep and expect the therapist to "fix" him. It's the family dynamic that also needs to heal.

If your husband truly cares for his child and wants his son's behavior to improve, he has to make an investment of his time with this child. I know you do things on Sunday as a family, but this boy needs his father's time and attention and his own special time with his father. There should be regular times where he has all of his father's undivided attention. Even in families with super-packed schedules, involved parents make time for their children. Doesn't have to be hours at a time. Just regularly scheduled time where it is just the two of them.

You say your husband has the kind of job where he can't take off to go to school, and I have to call him out on that. If your child ends up in juvenile court, will he take time off then? Is that what it's going to take?

You say you take a few vacations a year. I'd suggest if there is no other way, that your husband use some of that vacation time to attend meetings with the school counselor and/or social worker. In addition, once your step-son starts treatment, it won't be just about him but also your family dynamic. Your husband should be prepared to attend those sessions as needed or requested by the therapist.

I really, really commend you for not giving up, for putting this boy's needs front and center, and for insisting that your husband get on board with getting treatment for your step-son. It isn't easy being a parent, and step-parenting brings its own unique challenges. Hang in there, and make sure this child knows that you love him and that you'll never give up on him.
Best to all of you.

Not sure what you mean by he has become violent with your other son, but you kind of lost me there.

Are you talking about typical sibling fights, and you are so angry with this child that you are calling it "violence" to make your case, or did your step-son actually attack one of your other children? If it was an attack, why would this be tolerated?

From what you describe here, this isn't going to sort itself out with time. This is definitely a situation where professional help is needed. It's all too emotionally loaded, with blaming, and denying, and a great deal of animosity, discord, and tension in the household. I can't imagine anyone in this home is happy.

Your step-son is on a self-destructive path, and if you and his dad, (and hopefully bio mom) don't get him some help, the outside world will force your hand eventually---whether it's the school, or worse, the criminal justice system.

You must search your heart, however, and be the bigger person. You need to be clear in your own mind, despite your frustration, that you must be there for this child to try and help him. Right now, you're seeing him as an obstacle to your happiness rather than your stepson who is in need of help.

I'm not saying that what he is doing is okay. Lying, stealing, and disrespect are not okay. But here's the thing: he's the child. You and your husband are the grown-ups, and you both, together, need to act. This cannot be allowed to go on. You have other children who are also being affected by this, and your family dynamic is becoming more and more unhealthy.

Start looking for experienced, licensed family therapists. Call your insurance company to see who is on the provider list in your area. Don't wait. It's gone on too long, and everyone in the home is suffering.

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answers from Dallas on

Before you divorce your husband - all school correspondence and phones calls go to him. All discipline goes to the parent not step parent. Also first counseling just for you and then you two as a couple. And go from there.

Also please stop talking negatively about your SS or listening to others who have negative things to say. This is feeding into a very unhealthy dynamic for everyone involved.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

Couple of thoughts - do you enforce house rules or are all the consequences left up to your husband to enforce? When the boy is disrespectful, what do you do about it? I'm just wondering how that dynamic works.

If you're concerned he's a troubled kid, then what about him seeing a counselor, or even the school counselor (if he's bullying)?

Sometimes kids act out because they are having a hard time. To me, this sounds a bit calculated (as opposed to a psychiatric issue) because he can turn it on and off - respectful if his dad is around. To me that suggests he's not coping with something well. Bullies are often unhappy kids. I'm not saying that's your fault - I'm just saying the kid (and you/husband) could benefit if he talked to a counselor about what he's doing. You'd have to get your husband on board, but I'd start with the school counselor if I were you.

The bigger picture I see is - your husband is not backing you up. So that's a sign of disrespect. It may ONLY be about your step son, but he sees that. So he's not respecting you either, if his dad isn't.

Just my two cent's worth.

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answers from Norfolk on

You need some family counseling.
I don't know why your husband treats this child differently from the others (guilt maybe?) but the dynamic it's creating is NOT a healthy one.
Your Husband isn't doing this kid any favors - life is going to be hard on him if he thinks he can act this way and it will catch up to him.
It's not fair to the other kids either - or to you - or your whole family.
What ever is going on in your husbands head - it needs a counselor to pick it apart.
Because if things keep on like this - you DO have valid reasons for divorce.
Call it irreconcilable differences but I could not stand by and watch my kids be messed up by this.

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answers from Anchorage on

I have a suspicion that dad may coddle this son a bit because he can sense how much you dislike the child (as can the child) which would also explain part of why he acts out and seeks his fathers attention. I think therapy would be great, but I also think you have to stop treating him like he is a "bad kid", when you treat a teen like they are no good then they have no reason to be anything else. I don't doubt that your son is showing all of these behaviors, but with the way you talk about him I think I can partially see why, and you are part of the problem. I think family therapy would be a good addition to his individual sessions.

Of course therapy needs to go hand in hand with discipline, grounding and removing things he enjoys would be completely appropriate if he is stealing, lying, and talking back.

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answers from Portland on

You say your family cannot have counseling because biomom won't agree to it. That is not true. Your family can do what is best for your family. Your stepson is a part of your family. You can get professional help to learn how to manage this issue within your family. Of course it would be helpful if bio mom worked with you but it's not necessary. What you're doing now isn't working. What you describe is complicated in many ways. We cannot help you. I urge you to get counseling for your family so that this kid can become a loving part of your family.

A child cannot break up a marriage. Your marriage is based on the relationship you and your husband build for yourselves. Sounds like you are in a power struggle not only with your son but also with your husband over this issue. "Fixing" your son will not make your relationship with your husband any better. I urge you to get.professional help.

I do have training and experience. I've been a stepmother with a husband who wasn"t parent in an effective way. I fostered a special needs girl for several years before I adopted her. I suggest that a part of the reason your stepson is is having difficulty is the result of your focus on everything negative combined with your husband not acknowledging there is a problem. I do not see anything in this post to indicate you love him. Perhaps.the years without your husband's support has caused you to withdraw from your son.

The fact that your son's parents were never married or lived together does not mean he doesn't have difficulty because of their relationship or lack thereof. He lives in 3 homes with 3 parent figures who apparently don't talk with each other. Please focus on making his life more secure when he is in your home. For every negative thing a parent says to their child, there needs to be 8 positive things said. Find things, no matter how small, for which you can praise him.

I, too, suggest that your husband is trying to counteract your anger. The 2 of you need to find a way to be on the same page. Anger prevents closeness. If both of you could see how the other feels and could empathize with each other, this could be the start of being on the same page.

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answers from Boston on

I would stop being the disciplinarian. I would not engage with him when he is acting out.

I would insist that the family go into family therapy, and that you both seek marriage counseling . Mainly so that their is someone there who can steer the conversation and dialogue between you and your husband and allow him to actually have to hear what you are saying.

It is possible that your ss is suffering with a lot of anger/ resentment/ confusion. Having to be split up between to households is very difficult and also hard to be consistent with discipline and routine.he needs structure and a place to take out his frustration elsewhere( gym, karate, sports, scouts)

It is also evident that he may an underlining behavioral disorder. Especially if he is acting up at home and at school. Does he have an IEP? For behavior?

Your husband needs a wake up call, and I woul ensure it doesn't end up in divorce, or something worse.

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answers from Dallas on

What JB said. This doesn't seem like normal behavior for a kid. Something's off somewhere. Family counseling, and see if you can get bio-mom on board to work together to help the kid.

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answers from Minneapolis on

I don't mean to be harsh, or too blunt, but I would quietly make an appointment with a family/divorce attorney JUST to get some information on the hows, and steps you should take now or take soon if you choose, to at least PREPARE for a POTENTIAL a trial separation, and to protect yourself whichever direction your marriage goes. I think you will feel better at least knowing how to go about pursuing that option if it comes down to it.

Then tell your husband that YOU are having very serious stress about they way you are not on the same page when it comes to parenting your troubled 12 year old SS? Pick your timing very carefully, and tell him how important it is that he really listens to you.

If you've done this already and it only leads to fighting, of if you don't come away from that chat believing and seeing a new action plan in place, I would suggest asking your husband gently for a trial separation and marriage counseling.

I would also be insisting that the 12 year old should start individual therapy immediately, and in the near future, all of you together begin family therapy. Honestly, you do have to protect the emotional health of your other children as well as your own. I feel for your frustration, this is incredibly difficult.

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answers from New York on

Hi. Step parenting is horrendously hard! I have two SS's and like you, I was responsible for all the schooling, so to me that shows right there YOU are the parent that is actually working for that child. Period. End of story. If parents are not involved or interested in their kids education, guess what, they are not interested in their kid either. My suggestion would be its your turn for a 'talk' with SS. A nice easy loving but firm, I see you & what's been happening with you & we are fixing it, kinda talk! Sounds like you & dad's decision that he alone handle discipline has kept you from gaining some respect in the eyes of the SS. Earn it back & the easiest way to do it is make sure this kid knows you SEE him & am now taking a more active role. If dad doesn't like it he can talk to you about it just like you've been having to talk to him about it. Later after the fact. You can't be responsible for the hands on stuff & then not be able to address issues as they come up. You caught him stealing, YOU talk to him about it, right then and there! Kids want love & security. Especially kids who have been split & made to view love two sided, Moms love, then dads love. It's sad but don't back down & stay I top of him! Call him on his stuff, make him fix it, if it's something he can fix & try to open up communication so you can get him to share his feelings!
And as just a side note, my 10 year old checks all the boxes for Oppositional Defiance Disorder and has never been into lieing, stealing or hitting. He had anger & rage to express no doubt, everywhere he looked everything seems to be done wrong to him but he took his anger and expressed it more internally, taking to isolation when he struggles instead of projecting outward. He's more like the constant asker of why or voicing his opinion about why he thinks that way isn't the correct way or how he likes it, or how he would never ever choose it that way. Then he's got this thing where he basically finds a different way to do everything than what/how "normal" people would do it, from holding his pencil & chopsticks, to how he throws the ball & the style his writing comes out as (which is awesome, btw!) or the way his gate looks when he walks or heck even the way he swings his bat at baseball. He's actually very very smart (in S.T.E.M, got almost perfect score on last 2 state math tests) incredibly funny, witty even, more so than most adults I've met. He just looks at the world through a different lens. Just something to keep in my mind. I think your SS is just not feeling secure in his surroundings & sounds like he has reason to feel that way.

You sound very thoughtful. Mind your heart & do everything with love & you can turn it around.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Appleton on

Dad is not going to believe this child is doing anything wrong until he sees it for himself. Set up a hidden video camera and record what is going on when dad is not home. Show him the video.
Also you need to get dad to understand he is not helping the child if he is not disciplining him. He will not be coddled in the real world, he will not learn how to live as a fully functioning adult unless someone teaches him how to behave. And teaching him is dad's job.

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answers from New York on

This morning YOU caught him stealing, but HUBBY gave him a talk...???

If hubby isn't parenting him, you need to parent him. Be the disciplinarian. And if that creates problems between you and hubby, get yourselves some marital counseling.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Santa Fe on

My advice to you is to have your stepson do individual counseling with a child therapist and you all do family counseling as well. You and your husband might also benefit from some one one one sessions too. We were dealing with some hard behavior problems and this really helped us. You and your husband meet first with the therapist. Then you go from there. It's's not like you will go to these sessions forever. But I believe it will be very helpful. It may help your stepson with his behavior. It may help you to feel closer to him (once his behavior gets under control). And hopefully it will help your husband to do and see things differently. Good luck. This sounds so hard.

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answers from Washington DC on

welcome to mamapedia.

I'll be honest. I didn't read your book.

you need to set up video cameras in your house so that your husband can see his son's behavior. DO NOT tell your husband you are doing it. He might give his son a head's up.

Your step son sounds like a psychopath in the making. does he harm small animals?

Your whole family needs counseling. NO JOKE.

I believe your husband is being soft on step son because of how he was brought into the world. Well, he's got to stop compensating for him and start treating him the same as other kids or resentment will build up ALL around.


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answers from Beaumont on

If he won't listen to you or any of these other people who "get it", I'm not sure what you can do except separate, leave and let him deal with it. If that doesn't get your husband's attention, then I'm afraid there is nothing else you can do. I'm sorry. You are in a very tough spot. One thing I would NOT do is let this ruin the lives of your other children. Once he is the one dealing with this, things should change.



answers from Baton Rouge on

Your husband was the boy's father before you came along, and will be the boy's father with or without you. His kid will always come before you, and so he should.
If the kid is as much a psychopath as you say, and your husband refuses to see it, then your best bet is to leave.



answers from Oklahoma City on

"Hello, yes this is Mrs. XXX, what? Sorry, you'll need to speak to my husband. I am not able to handle this with my step son, you'll need to speak to his father. Here's his phone number".

Then back away and let hubby deal with it. Only see how he treats the family he lives with. This step son will eventually wear him down IF, IF, IF, HE is the only one dealing with his issues and is the one having to go to the school and other places to handle what happened.

Sounds like you're rescuing him and not letting him deal with the issues 100% on his own.

So maybe he isn't seeing the whole picture???

I'd probably find ways to be out of the house when he's there. Taking the kids and going to things only they do. Enroll them in some classes or sports that he isn't part of. Then stay gone until hubby is home. That way you are dealing with him less and less.



answers from San Francisco on

This is really tough. I would start with Cheryl B's advice.

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