I am at the end of my tether with my live in stepson (13 years old)

(19 Posts)
Monica72 Mon 18-Mar-13 21:05:48

I do not know what to do any more.
My stepson is not taken ownership for any of his actions. He is on detention 3-4 times a week and he has b een removed from class twice in the the last two days. The school is saying that thought he is not a bad/aggressive boy his disruptness, not following rules, answering back, chattimh, etc are forcing their hand and if he does not change and takes responsability of his actions, they will start the process of spelling him.
AT home, it is pretty much the same, he is not allowed to eat in the front room, but he will still do it as he is back from school (alone for 1.5 to 2 hours). He will take things from our offices without asking permission and if he asks and we refuse his request, he will still do it but behind our backs.
His dad works away alot, so I am the main carer, but lately I am not getting any of the rewards just the grief of his petulant, dishonest and dreafull behaviour.
He does not care of the consequences, we take away his gadgets, LP, etc annd he will not change, we put rules up and provide reward schemes at not vail, and the rewards are not a pack of sweets, it will be a ski trip, a new bike, etc.

I do not know what to do anymore.

If for example, I am firm and I say not dinner until HW is done, we will end up been up until 11.30pm and him acussing me of child abuse, that I do not care about him, etc .

For the first 3 years (living with me 6 out of 7 days a week since he was 8 years old), our relationship was really good, with lost of chating, doing things together, etc. But for the last two years things are getting from bad to worse.

The worst thing is that I transform into this horrible shouting monster and I hate myself for feeling resntfullv of doing everything and getting only grief.

Please help!

WakeyCakey Mon 18-Mar-13 22:06:56

I don't think withholding food until he's done his homework is right (if I've read that correctly)
Could you not sit down and set him time tasks,
Like you must do 30mins work and then you can have a break and a snack, or an hour then a bit of TV.
He might just need to feel that you are working with him.
If he knows that his gadgets are going to be taken every time he doesn't really have much incentive. Try rewarding not punishing maybe?

purpleroses Mon 18-Mar-13 22:53:50

Could you try and arrange a meeting with DSS, his dad, and the school (and his mum if she's still involved) to discuss the problems?

When does DSS think he should do his homework? If he does get it done after dinner, then I wouldn't bother about whether he's done it before or not. My DS and DSS (aged 13 and 14) both prefer to relax/game for a bit when they first get home, but do then get on with homework later. Ultimately if you're having a hard time I think you can decide that at 13, homework is his own responsibility - your job is to remind him and support him but if he doesn't do it, he'll get in trouble at school, so you don't need to be punishing him too.

In terms of sanctions, what I've always found to work best is small sanctions - eg small amount off pocket money or removal of computer/wifi connection for a short time for each infringement of rules, rather than big things like ski trip. If you threaten large things like a ski trip being removed, you're always going to be reluctant to enforce it - and he knows that. And once you have enforced it DSS is going to feel he has nothing left to lose. ie there's a limited number of big threats you can use.

colditz Mon 18-Mar-13 23:03:12

Ok, withdrawing meals is child abuse. He's right. Yes, he's being a shit, but annoying as it is, he is right. Don't withhold food. It's not allowed in prison, never mind in a normal family home.

Bearing in mind that you thought this was an acceptable way to make him do his homework, could it be that actually, you are just expecting too much?

And also, it must be harsh for him that neither of his biological parents seem to be too bothered about looking after him, and instead have left the whole thing to you. That must hurt, I wonder if he's testing you to see if you will lose interest too, just like all the other adults?

allnewtaketwo Tue 19-Mar-13 06:23:34

Where does it say that the biological parents aren't booted about looking after him. OP says dad works away a lot. Not very unusual in the modern age of needing a wage hmm

Bonsoir Tue 19-Mar-13 08:05:00

Most DC find it easier to do HW when they have full stomachs and have had some TLC and time to offload at the end of the day.

Monica72 Tue 19-Mar-13 10:59:53

Thank you for your answers.
The food is not the issue, he will not bother to eat at school if he is having fun, etc. He snacks as soon as he arrives home, so he is not starving, I can guarantee you that.

We have spoken to the school in numerous ocassions and their main concern is that he is not taking responsability for his actions, they have tried, mentoring, social teams, etc. But they cannot do more, it is the child decission to take responsability for his actions.

He has two hours break before he is suppouse to do his homework, I have tried to leave the time to do homework to be designated by him, but he will not do a single bit of homework for a week, I tried it and remind him every day about it without any success. and during that week his school bag remained on the hall untouched.

I have tried small rewards too, if you EAT everyday at school (as I believe is important he has regular meals) you can go to bed 15 minutes late duting the week, if you have 4 proper meals rather than panninies and jack potatoes, you can watch Waterloo road, etc.

His father will speak to him, talk to the school too,etc but we will erceive a blank look or a promise to be good, but the following day I will find one of his dad's gadgets in his school bag.....

His mother, unfortunately thinks her son is great and the problem is the school and us, but she will not bother to sit with him... the reason he is living with us is because she could not bother to get him up and to school on time 3 out of five days a week and he was registered under special needs at school due to his lack of progress, when is is one of the most intelligent kids I have ever met in my life. And, he probed to everyone as within 6 months of living with me he was out of the register.

I wish I could have the afternoon offs and be able to spend more time with him, but life does not work that way.

Have any of you been in similar situation? Is this temporary?

I think you might want on reassess some of your priorities here. Why are you trying to intervene in exactly what he eats for lunch (a panini is fine, honestly) when there are real issues to address? Also, it makes no sense to withhold dinner but punish him for making the wrong food choices at school. It seems madly inconsistent.

You need to prioritise what issues need to be worked on and start with the most important. It is way more important that he isn't expelled from school than that he chooses a 'proper' school dinner.

It is worth really considering that some of this defiance is related to his main carer not being either of his parents but his step-parent. He may well feel that his parents don't want to make time for him/care etc. Acting up would be a very common reaction in a teenage boy who felt abandoned. Note: that doesn't mean he has been abandoned; but he may well feel like he has.

Doing something like www.handinhandparenting.org/news/17/64/How-Special-Time-Works-with-Teens 'special time' with him (and his dad doing it) to try to sort out what has gone wrong in your relationship(s) with him in the last 2 years.

Also speak to the school about prioritising their behaviour goals from him. What is it that they most need to see an improvement in, and start with that. Trying to change everything at once is ineffective and often counterproductive.

ThingummyBob Tue 19-Mar-13 11:30:31

Sounds like a pretty normal teenager imho OP.

Like others, I'd advise you to pick your battles though.

What he eats and homework are trivial in the grand scheme of things.

So long as his general health is ok I'd back off regrding what he eats tbh. Make a dinner in the evening, and if he doesn't want it then fine.

Also, leave him to sort the homework out himself. School won't punish you if it isn't done, so leave him be and let him make his own decisions and the following consequences. Works a treat as it won't be long before school will give him detention etc and he will realise himself it has to be done.

Also, don't stress about detentions ( I used to) they do not follow a child at all. It is a school record only it won't affect his future if he's in dt every day for a term.

He'll learn eventually grin

flurp Tue 19-Mar-13 12:08:17

I think you have to back off a bit when they get to this age.
He will learn to take responsibility for his actions when there are consequences.
Let him eat what he likes during the day and if he doesn't do his homework let the school punish him.
Maybe treating him more like an adult will make him act like one smile

Monica72 Tue 19-Mar-13 19:17:28

Thank you so much.

I can see I have been a bit irrational about food.

I still think school and homework should be priority number one but I can see your points, no sure if I will be able to back off totally in this one.

The hand in hand parenting link has reminded me that we used to do this a lot in the past, but work has taken over our lives latetly.

Also, I realise that one thing is missing for the last two years, we used to commute 30 minutes together every morning and every evenning, during this time he had my full attention, so he would chat non stop..... I really missed those days, he used to make me laught so much with his stories.

This is something I cannot replicate today but I will defenitely try the "special" time.

I really hope this works, as I love him with all my heart but this situation is making me physically ill

Thank you for your ideas, I will try for a month and see....wish me luck

Honestly, I think it will really help. You love your DSS; you both just need to break out of negative patterns of behaviour. And you can. DS1 (12) has a strained relationship with his step-dad (my DH). They've started doing a sort of special time together (just a few hours at the weekend, nothing hugely dramatic) but it really does make a huge difference. DH is much less naggy with him and DS is much less stroppy.

I think it would be best for you and your DH to work on building up the relationship with your DSS again, and not worry too much about the homework for the moment. Speak to the school and explain what you're doing and why, and ask them to tell you what their priorities are for him (and in which order). Then you can agree a plan together to incrementally sort things out. All or nothing rarely does any good.

happymundanes Tue 19-Mar-13 19:31:23

I think I have been in your situation. We look after my DH's DN. At this age they go from being children within your control to something out of your grasp. There are trying all sorts of new things and you are there foil.

I cannot say, I did x and it worked, there is no easy way with teenagers. It's not you, it's them (!).

When they are not 'yours' you tend to question why you did x or y and second guess your actions or wish a conversation had gone differently, but really we, mothers and non-mothers alike are all in the same boat, dealing with bloody-minded teenagers. Speak to him kindly, think hard and listen to what he says and be positive rather than reacting to what he says.

Keep your sense of humour. The days when I remember to keep my sense of humour are the good days. I like you have responsibility for a child when really it should be someone else. As a good person, like you, I do my best.

I find that if I tell him he cannot do something he takes it that he cannot do it when I am there or when I may reasonably discover it. If you are not there of course he will eat in the sitting room or whatever. I still drink from the orange juice carton when noone else is in the kitchen.

If you are like me, you have posted because you've had a bad day. Relax, have a wine - tomorrow is another day. Good luck.

Monica72 Tue 19-Mar-13 20:06:28

Thank you

armagh Tue 19-Mar-13 20:19:08

Monica you sound like a really kind and loving step mum. Your dss sounds like he is trying to get negative attention - to him any attention is better than none. It must break his heart his mum can't be bothered with him and his dad is away so much. But would he admit that? Never!
Plus his age too means he can be stroppy.

colditz Thu 21-Mar-13 20:13:56

Stop thinking about food. Provide three meals a day and don't finick about whether he eats them or not. That stuff matters when they are two, and it should never matter again.

This is definitely about his biological parents being unavailable to raise him, his mum because she's neglectful when left in charge, and his dad because he refuses to be in charge, instead choosing to work away and let you do it. That must be so hurtful for him. I'm sure he cares for you, but he will be aware that the only reason you and your silly food rules are in charge of his life is because nobody else gives enough of a crap to step up and do it.

brdgrl Thu 28-Mar-13 01:06:33

I don't have much advice, but I did want to tell you that you aren't alone! My DSS is 15 and I am well familiar with these feelings!
For what it is worth, my DH is at home most of the time (he even works from home most days); I think it is a bit of a leap to say that it is parental neglect causing your DSS to act up. It is also a bit unfair to jump on you for taking a parental role with a child who, after all, you do parent (verb).

Anyway, I do think it is important to separate out the source of your DSS's unhappiness, and his bad behavior. My DSS did something pretty terrible recently (including some property destruction). We ended up tackling it from two directions - he is in counseling to help him work through some grief issues. But he is also making restitution for the damage he caused.

Overall, I would like to see DSS get more consequences for his actions, but DH finds it very difficult to follow through. We've been working on this by talking together to come up with appropriate consequences and especially by projecting into the future and talking through how we will handle things before they come up. Because we are right in the middle of it all now, I can't tell you whether it will solve our problem or not! I can tell you though that it has helped my relationship with DH to be able to discuss and address things together. Doing it all yourself is a recipe for disaster, making you and DSS miserable, I'm afraid.

brdgrl Thu 28-Mar-13 01:12:00

Also? Stop giving him new bikes and ski trips. He's not responding to the reward scheme, so the answer is to stop it and try something else, not up the value of the rewards. Make him earn things, really earn them, not be given them when he 'performs'.

And he is 13? You don't need to serve him three meals a day. Get him involved - he's old enough to make his own simple lunches. He's old enough to cook dinner once a week, even if it just heating up something pre-prepared. (Anyway, delaying a meal until homework is done is not 'child abuse'. Sure, it may not be effective and you may want to rethink your battles, but it is not child abuse.)

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