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To sabotage my perfect stepson...

(118 Posts)
oneoclockblues Fri 19-Apr-13 17:14:24

Out of an act of love?

DSS is 16, we have a close and loving relationship, but this doesn't change the fact that he is annoyingly perfect. He is physically gorgeous, talented at art, sport and music, is intellectually genius and surrounds himself with friends as equally good as himself. If I didn't know any better I would swear he was one of those robot kids from A.I.

But,unfortunately, all his natural talents, combined with a strong sense of ambition has turned him into an extreme perfectionist. I'm not talking the ' I spend a little bit extra on things' perfectionist, I'm talking the ' I spelt a word wrong, so I'm going to rub out the whole sentence and do it again' type.

But over the last couple of days his been moping around the house and stressing out, as he got a 87 on a test, and he has never before gotten anything below 90. Yes, you read that right, never anything under 90. They might have well given the poor kid a 0 the way his acting, like the whole worlds going to end.

And I've come to two conclusions; The kid doesn't know how to fail and this behavior can't be healthy.

I tried to approach DH about this last night, but he doesn't seem concerned. DH, bless him, is in no way a pushy parent, but if DSS decided tomorrow to join the circus, DH would stop at nothing and no expense, to see him the lead clown in circus soleil. He's a big believer in reaching your full potential, and not doing things half assed, not seeing in this case he may be doing more harm than good.

So I came up with an evil plan, to start sabotaging DSS work (Not his school work or anything serious obviously, but just things he does for extra curricular activities, ect) every now and then, so he becomes more accustomed to the feeling of failure (or his version of failure, average) and doesn't have a panic attack, like he is right now, every time something even remotely close to failure occurs, because as I've told him many times in the past, he won't go through life without failing and will have to get used to it sooner or later.

So, am I being unreasonable?

* I know I've taken on a joking tone here, mainly because as a long time user (under different name) I know anything involving stepfamiles is a sore subject, but this is a serious issue, I really believe this behavior is unhealthy, and any serious advice would be appreciated.

JamieandtheMagicTorch Fri 19-Apr-13 17:37:11

I agree with the idea of doing something fun, but difficult! Like climbing.

Tell him that you simply cannot learn without failing.

oneoclockblues Fri 19-Apr-13 17:37:28

greentea But it's not the achievement that bothers me, it's the effort. In the past I've literally had to take a pencil away from him and given him a pen, after he rubbed out and than rewrote the same sentence eight times because he had couldn't figure out how to spell a word.

Surely that needs some attending towards?

pictish Fri 19-Apr-13 17:37:48

You think sabotaging his schoolwork will help?

How odd.

He is a teenager, and is no doubt overreacting in an adolescent angsty way over his score.

You are a grown up - leave him alone!

swallowedAfly Fri 19-Apr-13 17:38:43

climbing is fucking difficult. it taught me a few lessons.

when you're hanging on an overhang freaking out shouting 'i can't' you have to get your shit together pretty quickly and accept that yes you can because you bloody well have to princess because there's no other way round this grin

JamieandtheMagicTorch Fri 19-Apr-13 17:39:02

He does sound pretty anxious/ obsessional

MooneyRara Fri 19-Apr-13 17:39:48

You sound completely MENTAL. HTH

MooneyRara Fri 19-Apr-13 17:41:02

'Surely that needs some attending towards?'

If he has some tendencies towards OCD then yes he needs help. Not some fucking lunatic fucking around with his work.


TeddyBare Fri 19-Apr-13 17:41:37

I'm guessing the final paragraph means we were supposed to know the sabotaging was a joke. It definitely sounds like he is struggling with failing but I think it should be his dad who talks to him about it.

HollyBerryBush Fri 19-Apr-13 17:42:15

I don't know why you don't just leave his parents to manage him and his expectations. Not really your place is it?

And yes, I await the flaming for that.

JamieandtheMagicTorch Fri 19-Apr-13 17:42:28

I am much happier since i became a tiny bit half arsed.

But my perfectionism returned recently overr DS1 s homework until i gave myself a good talking too. His pragmatic laziness is quite admirable

MooneyRara Fri 19-Apr-13 17:42:46

joking tone does not = joking content

JamieandtheMagicTorch Fri 19-Apr-13 17:42:57

To, not too


You see?

IAmNotAMindReader Fri 19-Apr-13 17:44:48

I understand you are worried about him and it does sound like this is heading into some kind of issue he will need conselling with.
Perhaps that is what he needs instead of actual sabotage is to explore the idea of failure and how it would feel versus the actual probal outcome. Counselling would help him with that if you and your Dh get nowhere.
Also others seem to be suggesting climbing so maybe there's something to that too.

ThePavlovianCat Fri 19-Apr-13 17:45:43

I think you are trying to make the point that it is important for people to know that failing isn't the end of the world but that your stepson isn't currently learning that because he is such a high achiever. That could potentially be a problem later on at university or when he gets a job - particularly if he is used to coming near the top and suddenly finds at university that most people there are very good.

I don't think sabotage is the right way forward (but I suspect you know that and were joking). Maybe you need to find things that he doesn't find intuitively easy so that it takes him more effort to succeed at them and maybe has a stumble along the way. Or find activities for him where it's not win or lose but done for the joy of it. I was going to suggest something like running but it would probably turn into trying to get PBs and such like.

I think you have been harshly jumped on here - the joys of AIBU!

IAmNotAMindReader Fri 19-Apr-13 17:46:47

*counselling and probabal.

I can spell, however I don't seem to be able to get my fingers to get their act together and co-ordinate on the keyboard.

MooneyRara Fri 19-Apr-13 17:47:08

I think it would be helpful if the op would kindly clarify if she is serious or not.

my son has a stepmum - I would want to kill her if she did this to him.

IAmNotAMindReader Fri 19-Apr-13 17:47:46


oneoclockblues Fri 19-Apr-13 17:49:20


You can put down the knife - I'm not serious (anymore...)

countrykitten Fri 19-Apr-13 17:50:47

I work with very high achieving teenagers and I do understand where the OP is coming from. The pressure these kids put on themselves is huge and failure is not an option for them.

However - sabotage is not the way to deal with it! Speak to his school who will no doubt we aware of his issues and then let them deal with the work side of things as they are experts and know what they are doing. His extra curricular activities are his pleasure in life surely? Why on earth would you want to spoil that for him?

I do not think that you repeatedly telling him that he will fail in life at some point is helpful at all btw - you will be making him anxious and reinforcing his behaviour. I would not do anything at all without your DH's knowing about it - tension in the household will not help.

At home could try a new sport or hobby together as a family which will have ups and downs and will be a learning curve for all - he can then screw up/fall off/go wrong whatever in supportive and caring environment.

MooneyRara Fri 19-Apr-13 17:52:11

Oh ok.

Freddiemisagreatshag Fri 19-Apr-13 17:56:15

Are you quite wise?

He will learn in his own time.

For goodness sake, try being proud of him and praising him for his achievements.

monsterchild Fri 19-Apr-13 17:57:27

Sabotage isn't the way forward, how about taking him to meet some very successful non-perfect people? I could see him being surprised that sucessful people aren't always perfect at what they do.

As much as I enjoy climbing, I don't think it will show him how to be laid back, it will totally reinforce the obsessive detaily-ness that he exhibits. He will certainly meet more laid back people, but in traditional climbing you MUST be extremely careful because your life depends on the placement of your pro. Sport climbing, not so much.

Suzieismyname Fri 19-Apr-13 17:57:45

I think you have the best of intentions but just tread carefully...

oneoclockblues Fri 19-Apr-13 17:59:01

Countrykitten The new sport thing wouldn't work with DSS, he has no problem failing at a sport at first, but he will then do it obsessively into he has perfected it, even if he doesn't actually like what his doing. Determined little bugger he is. But then the fear of failure and not being the best sets in and it all goes to shit.

mrsjay Fri 19-Apr-13 18:02:04

what are you talking about serious;y what UABVU AND a utterly WEIRD

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