Trouble with and Between My Teen-aged Son and Husband

Updated on March 20, 2008
J.F. asks from Hightstown, NJ
22 answers

Hi,

I am married and have two children from my previous marriage. The issue centers around my son, who will be 14 next month. Six years ago when I married my husband, my son showed some adjustment problems. He also has ADHD and had some issues in school. It looked like he had finally gotten past all that. To my tremendous disappointment it appears he has not.

This weekend, he mouthed off first to me, at a time we had company over, that I was neglecting him and he was tired of being mistreated by me and my husband, and he's tired of our "bullcrap" and our "droning on" during family meetings...etc. I do not tolerate disrespect and told him I would speak with him after the company was gone. My husband and I have worked very hard to give both my children a good, stable home with extras that we certainly did not have. We do expect my children to do certain chores and keep their rooms neat, and I do not feel that we have to defend that. I can't convey in words the look on his face or his tone of voice when he said what he did. I waited a day to talk to him because I was that upset.

Before I got to him, my husband wanted to give him a heads-up that he really had "screwed up" with me. My son then went off on him, telling him that he mistreats him, that "I'm not your kid", and many other hurtful things. My husband has no children of his own, and has treated my children as his in every way, working very hard along with me to make sure they have what they need. He couldn't love them more if they were his own biological children. He is so deeply hurt that he can't look at my son and last night was even ready to walk out on me. The last two summers we have sent my son for one month to sleep away camp and my husband is now saying "not out of my money". My husband tends to hold onto his hurt and anger for a long time. I realize he needs some space and some time to feel what he's feeling. I do believe that another incident like this will probably send him walking.

We were in counseling early in the marriage. While neither of us liked the marriage counselor, I was the one who terminated it and looked for someone else. The person I then found indicated that she felt we each needed at least a few months in individual therapy before we would benefit from couples therapy. I went to a therapist for a while, but my husband never did.

I had my son in therapy for four years and he seemed to have made such great strides. The therapist just retired and my son wanted to see if he could handle things without therapy for a while. He seemed to have come so far that I was willing to try it.When we asked my son why he said such terrible hurtful things, he could only say that he was angry and was seeing everything we did "in the worst light" and he sees now that he misinterpreted everything and "acted like an idiot". He has apologized up down and sideways, asked what he can do to make up for his behavior. I know that he feels terrible now, but in the last month or two there were two other incidents with me, where he apologized afterwards, so I'm feeling that it's not enough for him to simply apologize afterwards.

I'm thinking he needs to go back to seeing someone but that maybe the four of us should go for family counseling as well.

I am distraught, because a) I thought my son was past the impulsive mouthing off a b) while I understand how deeply hurt my husband is, I am so hurt that he would think of walking out on me and c) it hurts me that if my husband does stay that he and my son may remain at odds. I'm sorry if I'm rambling. I've been awake since 2:45 a.m., and I' don't do well with sleep deprivation---and my particular health problems also leave me feeling wrung out at times.

I am also having some health problems that I am trying to address, and it will take me at least a few months to get them under control. I do feel that if my husband doesn't want to stay, that he should at least give me time to first get my health issues resolved and then be able to look for a job that pays more (a challenge in the current market). Generally I try not to make major decisions until the turmoil has abated, but I may not have a choice. Either way, the issue with my son will have to be addressed.

Has anyone had anything similar? I'd appreciate your insights. I know somehow it will work out, but right now I'm sad, worried, confused, and hurt.

J.

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N.C.

answers from New York on

J., I'm in a similar situation I was married before I have a 16 year old son the only difference with me is that I have a 2yr. old with my new husband now. It is very hard being remarried & having children from a previous marriage. Unfortunetly I feel kids just can not accept the situation. My husband & son fight all the time their are days I would just like to leave. I love my husband to death he just seems to forget he was a kid too. We have been in & out of counseling for about 7yrs. My husband & son go to counseling now it has been much better. I finally think my son is learning to let things go which makes things much easier. My situation is a little harder for the fact I have a 2yr. old that sees everything going on. I know their are days my husband feels like just walking out, but he just can't we have been through so much the last few years we now if we stick together & go for counselor they will guide us. Trust me it is very hard the only thing I can say is it will get better as long as you are willing to get help & stick to it.

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M.K.

answers from New York on

J.,

Hubby isn't going anywhere, he is just MAD, and upset,

common for men in this situation,

he feels he is supporting this kids and the kid is ungreatful
he feels WORSE than hurt,like a fool for having opened up his heart and WALLET to a brat who doesn't appreciate what he is doing

--
All of this is true, NOW
Because he has no kids of his own he can't see that kids are ungreatful regardless, that the fact he says theses mean things is because he wants to feel the love from your hubby.
that its completely normal for him to mouth off and have impulse control issues ( and in my opinion better NOW than later)

--I am in a similar situation my son is 11 and my husband is NOT his father, I tend to play mediator and defend either one or the other ( it can be stressful)

Your son will go to sleep away camp, and your hubby will get over it,

Stop sugggesting counseling, and start suggesting CONNECTING
I know your idea is to keep them as far apart as possible , for the sanity of the house,
BUT that doesn't do the trick,FORCE them to be with eachother,
enjoy time together, at something active,EG. baseball games
or sporting event, like monster truck thing.once per month

14 is a difficult age, specially for boys because they are particularly hormonal and their sex drive is amping up
they masterbate alot too, in2 years he will have a GF and be back to normal but for the next 2 years your son needs to be active, and involved in something I think volunteering at the hospital might be just the ticket for him, he will recieve praise and positive infulences,he will feel smart, and successful and proud to tell people,

Your husband will also feel proud of this, so perhps you could suggest this to your hubby, and see what he says,
then have him suggest it to your son, and then get the ball rolling, to let him do it, -- After he LOVES the job say, oh honey that was a great Idea you had, and then say to your son, I am so happy daddy suggested that, he always says how smart you are. ( and let your hubby take the credit for it )

This works with my husband, I also pretend to be stupid in math so my hubby ( an accountant) can teach the math to my son, its helps them bond.

I also make my son do chores, so no harm there.

--- Speak to your son about trying to control his hormones.

--- Speak to your hubby and tell him that although he might be offended, what he said is actually a mile stone, the fact that he says how he feels is actually a good thing, the problem is that he needs help understanding his feelings, and that because he may look like a man, his brain is still a childs,-- bring you hubby around to the truth let him see that his threatening to leave at each turn is wrong, that your not letting him leave, and that your stuck together forever, AND THATS THAT.( thats what i did with my hubby , just laid down the law said stop the BS, and start acting like a family)

NOW one thing i have to mention , because it might be the most hurtful thing ( I HOPE you took your husbands side)
He needs to feel like its you and him against the kids,
like your on the same team,

SON needs to feel like you love him more than your hubby
( I tell my son I love him the most, even more than my other 2 kids who are babies , and i say that he is special to me in a way that they aren't because we had special time together and he is my first born child)

Now my other 2 are babies, and i love them equally and my son adores them ( but he like to feel special and he should)

My husband , well I try and not baby him as much, BUT I lavish him with praise when he takes that extra step, and does something good with my boy,

Equally I express disappointment when he messes up
but i do it in a way that is not scolding a child
eg.. I wait til we are alone in the car and let him see my sad face, wait til he notices it, and then when he asks why, gently say, it would really mean a great deal if you could NOT
( whatever he did) then he will defend himself and you let him ramble on, take his side on what ever you can and then reiterate how although your son was wrong to ,do blank,

you would really like it if he could PLEASE TRY TO BLANK

--- this gentle nudging helps,trust me.

J.,

your son was preteen, and is NOW a teenager, whole new ballgame, you have atleast 2 years more of this stuff,
keep fighting for your family, its worth it,

Long term you will see the benefits of it,

your son will leave home for college at 18 so remember this is just temporary, he is separating him self

its normal

Also remember to remind your husband how greatful you are he puts up with all this CRAP, you know its hard,cause it is

but that if you dodn't have his support you couldn't do it alone

--And FYI WORSE has happenend in my home and we are still together, so this is really nothing, it will blow over,

it would take atleast 2 months for your hubby to move out, and by that point he will be over this,

and I suggest you get your son busy with his new volunteer job ASAP

Guilt also works ( tell your hubby it really bothers you that he is willing to quit this marriage at the drop of a hat, that everytime any little thing goes wrong he decides to check out on this marriage and this family.tell him that event tho you don't approve on how and what your son said , you know that you are lucky to have a good son, that he is better than MOST kids his age, and that this is NORMAL teen behavior, That everytime one little thing goes wrong, you run out on our marriage,-- Sure it was embarrassing what happened, but this over with now, its time to let it go,
THIS is a mere bump in the road, all familyies with teens experience this same thing BUT WORSE,
say our son feels we don't love him, --WHat we should be focusing on is how to show him we do.
( at this point he could say some ugly things so don't be surprised) let him say what he has to say, and then say OK so Because of that you want to run out on our marriage?
Something so small, I mean you wouldn't buy a new car because you had 2 flat tires would you, you would at least try and fix it first, but you want to quit a perfectly good family without even trying.

and Last suggestion, is to call the same guests over to the house, so your hubby can get over his embarrassment because this is probably the thing thats bothering him the most
( at this dinner, your son must behave and appologize, and publically say something NICE about his stepfather if this is not possible because your son is stubborn like your hubby, you need to try and push it)

Hope these few suggestions help,

Don't worry yourself over it, it will all work out
Your hubby won't leave, this will blow over

M

PS forgot to mention my son is also ADHD,

and I read a poem once and in it its said
If your child never says I hate you , then you aren't doing a good job as a parent.

I haven't been able to find the author, or the poem but I read it once and never forgot it,

J., email me if you want to talk OK

Good luck

M

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L.C.

answers from New York on

Hi J.,
I've been there, not with every single thing you mentioned, but enough. Please take time to go out with your husband for a quiet time for the two of you...no interuptions...outside of the home where the atmosphere is non-threatening...and have a talk. The two of you need to be solid. Be sure to tell him what a wonderful dad he has been and how much you love him. Tell him your feelings, how you feel he might be thinking of leaving and you don't want it to happen. Be sure it's "your feelings" where it isn't an accusation toward him. Try to get marriage counseling and see what he suggests. L.

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D.K.

answers from Syracuse on

I married my husband when my kids were 14, 10, and 5. They are now 26,23,17. My oldest son left at quite young to live with dad. the middle son went into the marines and now if you look at my requests, I am going through #@@# with my 17 yr old. There were problems with all. I think the biggest thing is to stay strong. In my case I feel he is irrational. But Men are babies and we all know that. There is probably alot more to this then you are allowing yourself to see. If your son was doing better with counciling, maybe he needs to go back. I keep telling myself that I need to be united with my husband, then he acts like a child and I end up being united with my daughter. its crazy and I sympathize with you. If you need to talk, I we are all here and rambling helps you see things clearer yourself.

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J.K.

answers from New York on

These are common problems with teenagers. I suspect your son needs more support in therapy. Can you return him to treatment? Just so he has someone to "mouth off too" besides you guys. I think a husband threatening the relationship because of a child's behavior (not violent or destructive behavior) just bad behavior is going too far. He needs to develop a thicker skin around teenagerness. Maybe he had a hard time from his parents when he was a kid? Maybe they were mean? Anyway, take care of yourself! Get your health in order and all else will follow. I have been through some of this and I can say if you feel better it will be better.

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D.M.

answers from Syracuse on

I know it doesn't sound very helpful, but hang in there.
Your situation sounds sooo much like mine. MY son is almost 17. We go weekly up and down with a lot of the same issues.
My husband has been so frustrated at times, but we just keep
pushing through knowing that he is a hormonal teen with a lot
more family issues than some kids with both biological parents. Then on the other hand their area lot of kids that
don't have the support of a caring step-parent. Make sure your husband knows how much you appreciate him and his support. Good luck! D.

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P.C.

answers from New York on

You are not alone in this issue. It sounds like all of you would like to make things work, but everyone is also frustrated. Finding the right therapist is also hard, but you and your son need to keep trying. Perhaps a school counselor could recommend someone, or the previous therapist might have colleagues who are similar in nature. We have had good success with a DVD program called the Total Transformation Program by James Lehman. He also has a website that provides general advice, and once you buy the DVD set you also get personal hotline service whenever you need it. It is worth the money; consider it an investment in your family's future. Lehman himself was a troubled youth, so he truly speaks from experience. The concepts are simple and effective. It worked for me for two completely different types of children and issues. Good luck.

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L.T.

answers from New York on

I read your letter and it sounds al though you are going through a lot, to say the least. What I am concerned about is what are the consequences of your son behavior. How is he diciplined? Do you discipline your son and have your second husband support you in your actions? Or do you two have different rules.

Also 4 years of therapy seems like a long time for your son. Were you, your first husband or your second husband allowed to participate with your son. And is it possible your son is simply responding to the "loss" of his therapist, someone he has learned to trust and confide in. Also your husband appears to quite fragile, as it relates to violate situations. While I greatly respect his willingness to take care of a child that is not biologically his, he needs to understand that your son is a teenager and they all have their moments and even if he was his child your son would still challeng both of you.

I wish you the very best of luck...and you are a remarkable woman, due to your williness to seek out help. Not many people are willing to try to make amends to the extent that you are. Also perhaps, your husband would be wise to seek outside help, to help deal with his feelings of hurt and frustration. La Tonya

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S.S.

answers from New York on

My Sister,

First let me say that I commend you for reaching out. There are many issues that you are dealing with including health issues. But let me say that being the parent of a 13/14 (well, teenager) is not easy. Tell your husband not to take things too personal because at this age they will tell thier Father/mother/grandmother/guardian/anyone taking care of them, that they "HATE THEM". He's at an age where he is starting to formulate his own ideas, and starting to become a young man. You also mention that he's been in therapy, and has ADHD, so this child has his own issues to deal with. Keep this in mind "Almost all teen agers give their parents the same headaches, and you are not the only ones going through this". He is going through puberty. Changes in his body. They want more freedom to do what they want. They don't want to follow the rules that they've probably followed for years. It's like all of the sudden you don't even know your own kid. Taking things away, like Camp will only create more animosity and resentment. Can I suggest something like Karate or Judo? He will be learning discipline as well as letting out aggression. Patience, and lots of talking. Yet realize that this is a phase and this too shall pass. Your husband has got to learn not to take things too personal. Even if he would've been his biological father it would be the same. This is where you guys have got to stick together much stronger than before.
Good luck and many Blessings,
S.

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D.S.

answers from Syracuse on

as a mother of five children I just need to say that you should be glad your son faced up to his misbehaviors. That is what teens do, they push their limits, it is a process like everything else and he took responsibility for his. your husband on the other hand, should see that and acknowledge that as well. It is an inmaturity to hold on to the hurt from an angered teen, I am not saying your husband doesn't have the right to be hurt, but to get beyond that, forgivness is a part of being a family. Just my two cents! good luck! Prayer really helps too!

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G.T.

answers from Rochester on

Sound like you have bigger problems than you think. Your son is just being a normal teenager "testing the waters". He is also being a bigger man than his step father! He seems to know he was wrong. Your husband doesn't! From what I read your husband is looking for an excuse to leave. If little problems like this (and believe me this is a little problem and much bigger ones will come up before he is grown up) cause your husband to want to leave, both of you are in for a very rude awakening. I think you and your husband need a councilor much more than your son.

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L.W.

answers from New York on

Hi J.

I feel for you. My son is now 19 (almost 20) and there were times that I thought we all wouldn't make it through the teen years. Looking back is easier than going through it. We had some similar problems. My husband and I have learned that we had to talk with each other first so that we approached the situation together. After lots of arguments, we now know that the only way we can help the kids is when he and I are a joint force. This is of course easier that it sounds, but it is worth all the effort when it makes your marriage stronger. As to your son, he sounds normal to me. Teens have such strong emotions and they need to learn to deal with them. This takes time. I am sure that you'd rather he feels secure enough with you to lash out instead of holding it in and lashing out in school or at the public in general. He probably is very sorry after such an episode, but he doesn't know how to deal with them at the time. Family therapy might help a lot in this case. Whatever you do, just remember to put your marriage first, because without the marriage, everything is will fall apart for sure. Good luck and God Bless.

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C.G.

answers from Philadelphia on

Hi J.,

I am so sorry for what you and your family are going thru! I have one question...is your son's biological father in his life? I have not been thru this personally, but I kind of went thru it with my Aunt who divorced her two son's father and remarried. Her son was younger than 14; however he was diagnosed with ADHD too. She had many issues with disrespect and defiance; especially from her son to her new husband. She put her son in therapy and kept him there. He is now 18. Unfortunately she believes a lot stemmed from not having his biological father in his life. That was his father's choice. While her husband is not her son's biological father, he is the head of the house and provided a roof over their heads as well as a stable home environment. This needs to be conveyed to your son and stressed highly. You have to be the disciplinarian more so than your husband especially if your ex is not in the picture. I think your son is going thru a tough time at his age...becoming a young man; puberty; lots of hormonal issues. He needs lots of love, hugs, kisses, talks, listening and understanding. And he needs to be disciplined. He definitely needs to be back in therapy especially if he's not talking to you. Your husband needs to take a step back and not fly off the handle too. This is a critical time in a young man's life that will shape who he will become as a man.

I hope this helps a little.

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S.Y.

answers from New York on

Speak to your hubby and assure him that you know you have been married for four years and "we" have come so far, and marriage isn't a marriage without hard work. Tell him that you want to address these issues with your son and that it is important that he stands with you and supports you. He(hubby) probably said those things out of anger and didn't mean it. Maybe he feels your son is being ungrateful for all that he has done for him by mouthing off and being disrespectful. But since you have gone to therapy with him(hubby), you have built an understanding and love for each other. Its important that you don't argue but console eachother in this difficult time and listen to what he has to say. And then speak about how you feel and what you want to do. Then talk to your son's therapist and see what is going on with him. He says that he is being mistreated and other things so it time to get to the bottom of it with the therapist. Don't delay and call right away. I have been through similar issues. I have been married for 12 years with four children and have been to counseling in my earlier years. I hope this little bit helps. Hang in there.

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G.P.

answers from Utica on

I feel for you and the trouble you are having. I do feel from what you wrote, that getting back into therapy is the right thing to do. I would find someone who works with goal setting. My sister has been in and out of therapy for almost 20 years and has had many therapists who just want to hear her talk. That doesn't always work. It seems your son may need, not only to have someone to "vent" to but someone who will help him become the person he wants to be. (you know how they think we know nothing, and threfore don't listen to much of what we have to say - - haha)

Also keep in mind, the outbursts - - he is 14 - going through some major homronal changes. Keep an eye on it and if it seems like he flys off the handle for no reason maybe he other issues, like bi-polarism. My father has it and can be laughing and joking one minute and totally full of rage the next and just as quickly he's back to his happy little self.

Good Luck and keep us posted!

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A.H.

answers from New York on

Hi J.
So sorry you are going through this... I dont have any personal experience with this, but I worked with children of various ages with ADHD for probably about 6 years or so. I also worked on a research study of ADHD kids who were the same age as your son (and older).
What strikes me saddest about this is the stance your husband is taking. The fact that he would be talking about leaving is completely outrageous- maybe he didnt mean it or was mouthing off out of anger? Interesting, he was doing the same thing that your son was doing.
WHile I would in no way condone your son's behavior, it seems like he has an awareness that he was wrong in acting out. While I dont have a child this age, I do remember being a teen and I may not have said certain things to my mother or father, but, boy, was I thinking it! I know your son hurt your feelings, but please dont take it so personally that you then wouldnt speak to him over it. Talking to him directly would probably be the best way to go about it - especially if you're thinking about bringing him back to therapy. If you want him to talk to someone about issues, then the best way to do it is to set an example yourself. Further, his anxiety over the incident when you had company probably festered and your husband talking to him about it the next day was all he needed to have a blow up all over again.
If your husband is getting involved, fine, that's his business as a stepfather. But then that also means, by the same token, that he should be prepared for the same fallout that comes along with getting involved. Sure your son would say hurtful things, "youre not my father" etc. He's grasping at straws to get a rise out of people, to make them feel as bad about themselves as he felt about himself at that point. If your husband was his bio father, he would have found something else to take issue with ...Your husband needs to relax and get a thicker skin...this is a 14 year old we are talking about... if he could make better decisions, he would be an adult.

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P.J.

answers from New York on

J.-

I so feel for you and your situation. I have 9 and 15 year old sons. I am divorced and my ex and I do not have the same standards or views on parenting and discipline.

I don't have enough time right now to address this as completely as I probably would normally but I will get to the heart of my reply.

My 15 year old has become extremely disrespectful. Some of that is being a teen and some is that he has gotten into a bad crowd and is doing other bad things as well. His grades have fallen too. I know where you are coming from thinking the apology is not enough because we went through that also.

Keep on top of him. Get him back into therapy and also get into family and or marriage counseling.

Do your best to take care of your health issues. I also have some health problems and they surely take a toll but most often people do not have the decency to wait until you feel better. My ex filed for divorce as soon as my Mom went into rapid decline with Alzheimers disease. Not only was I the primary caretaker but I was the only one in my family doing anything for her. My children at that time were 4 and 10 so I had my hands full there too. He made sure that the entire divorce process was as spiteful, bitter, costly and nasty as it could possibly get and it was finalized 3 days before the first anniversary of her death. His goal was the threat he had made when he filed...I am going to see you penniless and in a mental institution if its the last thing I do.

Well, he managed penniless and he filed bankruptcy as well. Wasn't this a wonderful thing for the children? They then and now have 2 parents struggling to provide. But, when someone makes up their mind to be spiteful and nasty they do not put anyone else first. Mothers will often put their children first but from what I have seen fathers often do not, and these are not his biological children so despite the fact that he loves them very much I would not rely on that either.

Fortunately, by the Grace of God I am not and have never been in a mental institution. That is not because he stopped trying but purely by the Grace of God. All the stress made my health and depression/anxiety much worse than it had ever been. I had a few years that were very trying. But...this is life. Do not expect him to wait until you are better for him to leave if he has it set in his heart that this is what he is going to do. In fact, if he is hurtful and nasty be prepared for him to do it at the lowest possible point in your health crisis. So, rely on your faith and good friends and if you are lucky enough some good family members. That was something else I did not have the benefit of from the time my Mom started to show signs of Alzheimers.

Your children need you, especially now so stand strong. And, in terms of the teen, be a parent not a pal. Stick to your guns about the discipline and get him into therapy pronto! You did not mention, but is their biological father any help at all? I am assuming not since he wasn't mentioned but maybe now is the time to see if he will pull his weight...but don't expect much there either.

Sorry if this sounds bitter and disappointing but this has been my experience.

On the other hand, I am still here. I am still standing strong. I know I am a good Mother and am doing the right thing even when it is not the popular thing.

This too shall pass...better days ahead...just possible bad storms first...

Hang in there...
P.

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M.O.

answers from New York on

Dear J.,

I don't have a teenager (yet), but I do remember being one, and what I know is this: teens test their limits. They try to push their parents' buttons, they try to get a reaction -- it's a way of making sure that as they start to leave the nest the nest will still be there. (And, with all the hormones surging around in a teenage boy, there's often some extra anger and aggression. It's testosterone, and it's normal.)

I do think you need to find a time to sit down with your husband -- maybe after a cooling-off period, maybe with a counselor -- and let him know that you love him and you value his support while your son goes through a difficult but normal stage.

Honestly, I can't say this enough -- it's normal. It's an "I hate you; do you love me?" moment. And if it only happens once, you'll be getting off very, very easy. If your son didn't love his stepdad and want him in his life, he wouldn't be testing him this way. I know it's not pleasant, but your husband needs to understand that it's a normal and not personal.

Hope this helps!

Mira

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M.S.

answers from New York on

J.,
You are in my prayers.Is your son on medication? Is he taking it as prescribed? Maybe the medications need to be changed?
If your husband wants to work it out it is so important for you both to go to counseling in order to make it work.
Pray.

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J.S.

answers from Syracuse on

I also have a son with ADHD, from a first marriage and have been in my second for 18 years. We've had some really good times and really bad times through the teenage years. I've seen the impulsiveness come and go. My husband was very tolerant of the bad days, we never discussed our issues in front of my son. Not to say that we didn't talk together with my son. We did, and there were some very heated moments.

During his teen years it became worse again and I blamed it on the hormone changes. ADHD is a chemical imbalance in the brain, add to that the hormone changes and all the normal teen trials and influences, and you can have a mess on your hands. A lot of support, love and discipline as well as therapy, if your son is open to it (it most likely won't work if he doesn't want it) will help but as he gets older he has to realize that he is ultimately responsible for his behavior which will determine his future. (Yeah, I know, tell that to a teen!) I gave my son too many "chances"- he too became mouthy, then belligerant, then threatening. At 18 I had to kick him out of the house because of the threats and broken household items, doors, and so on.
While we were going through this I had friends ask if he was doing drugs. Of course I said "No way, he's in sports adn is going to go to college on a sports scholarship". Well I found out a couple of years later (at 17) he had been doing drugs, which is a common outlet for people with ADHD. People with ADHD often feel out of control, allienated, low self-esteem, ect. Hence why they may turn to drugs. I'm not saying your son has, but keep it in the back of your mind and know the signs and symptoms- and don't be affraid of having him tested if you think he is. I gave too many excuses and chances, accepting too many "I'm sorry"'s without serious consequences. For your son's sake, try not to do what I did. He's 24, has a 2.5 year old and life is very hard on him right now. And there is nothing I can do about it now except tell him I love him no matter what, but that I will not accept the nasty behavior. I remind my son of his potential, he's a very smart, type "A" personality with the ability to light up a room with jokes, and sympathy and gentleness when it's needed. I've made my apologies for not being harder on him when he was younger and expect more from him now. He is showing signs of improvement but it's much harder than it had to be.
As for your husband, if he really loves you he will stick by you. One thing we did was to agree that: 1)we weren't going to let a child influence our behavior toward each other, 2)we would not fight in front of the kids (I have a younger son as well) and 3)if there was something we totally disagreed on, the decision was mine because ultimately he's my son, but that I would give my husband the chance to fully explain his point of view before making my decision.
Looking back on it I wish I had taken some of his suggstions early on- tough but fair. If you want to talk more you can e-mail me at '[email protected]____.com' Good luck to you.

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S.R.

answers from New York on

First you need to breathe! Ok lets try to make some sense out of what seems right now to be chaos...but is not atypical for many blended families and children with ADHD.

Ok, this is just advice, not gospel and only you know what is the right thing to do for you and your family.

You son needs his mothers attention and he is telling you this, both verbally and through acting out. Whatever he is feeling, he is trying to convey that message to you. Please remember, he is a teen, hormones are raging, and peer pressure is HIGH!!!!

Now with repect to his diagnosis of ADHD, I am sure you and your husband understand that his behavior requires patience and understanding. Couseling is great, but right now, turning back to that immediately may not be your best first line of action. BUT don't negate that therapy might be a good idea.

I am suggesting taking a weekend for you and your son (or even a day trip, go to an arcade, go to a movie, a play, a concert, bowling!), go away to someplace where you two can talk, play and rebond. Don't force the conversation about his feelings, but tell him, I am here, if you want to talk I am ready to listen. Don't assume he knows you are there to listen, tell him. Too often we as parents don't tell our kids what they can or can't do, or what is expected or not expected. We need to be clear, and not assume. (I know, I've made that mistake, and it was hard to recover, but we did)

Make 30 minutes each day for your kids. Soley to be present with them, and to listen and share with them. Have fun!

Now for your husband, he should do the same. If this man is truly his (their) father (understandably not biological) then he should take the time to be with him as well. He needs to rebond, on a man-to-man and father-to-son level.

Then you all should do things as a family. Again, too often we forget do to things as a family because we are so tied up in LIFE and so angry when kids are ungrateful. We must remember, we were kids too, and although times may have been different, we must deal with today's kid, and love them more for it! Family time crosses all times and generations, so please..take some family time. Go cycling, walking, hiking, waterrafting, a movie, or have movie night at home, kids choice and then parents choice....game night...let the kids cook night, etc.

Lay the rules clearly, that you and your husband are a unit, and so is your son and you, him and your son, and the two kids. And family bonds will NOT be broken.

Consider alternatives for sleep away camp...

As far as responsibility, set the chores and respect their privacy. What my husband and I did was the best and most liberating thing!

The kids entered into those tween-teen years their rooms were unmanagable. So we gave them a choice, either we clean their rooms and go through their rooms, ditching what we choose and seeing all their private things, or they take care of their rooms, do their laundry, and through out their garbage. Well it took time, but it worked! Now honestly, my kids rooms are a mess...but there are no locks on the doors, they have done their own laundry since they were 11 and 13, and clean their rooms weekly. They even have painted their room and redecorated! Although my anal retentive husband wanted it perfect so he was painting right alongside them, but they both get it, if they want respect, they have to earn it and respect includes responsibility and accountability.

I close the door when I see a mess, and I am so HAPPY not to see their madness!!!!

Let Go and Let God...somethings are not worth the battle, so choose your battles wisely.

Kindly, S

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T.H.

answers from New York on

First tell your husband to grow up. This is not about him. If he is going to leave because of something a teenager said to him then he's other issues and is using your son as an excuse. Kids in their early teens are going thru all kinds of changes, physically & emotionally. Add the impulsivity of AD/HD on top of that and these outbursts are going to happen. Get your son back into therapy. If he was happy with the person he was seeing before, then go back to that one. If he wasn't or wants a change, find a therapist who specializes in kids with special needs (AD/HD, etc.) who will also work with the family and how to work with your son. Then take care of yourself. You need to be healthy for you and for your son. Then get yourself into therapy.

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