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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.

Schmoozer Fri 19-Apr-13 18:04:27

Read up on clinical perfection if u wish to help

oneoclockblues Fri 19-Apr-13 18:12:03

So I guess I should start looking into counselling and rock climbing lessons for DSS?

Thanks MN, you have once again talked me out of some very stilly and immature.

Freddiemisagreatshag Fri 19-Apr-13 18:18:08

Jesus wept. Counselling. Because he's bright and clever and handsome and funny and TOO GOOD AT STUFF.

Now I really have heard it all.

orangeandlemons Fri 19-Apr-13 18:18:23

Wish my ds had had this problem at 16grin. He was more inclined the other way ifkwim

Dededum Fri 19-Apr-13 18:21:25

Your DSS may just be one of those people who is good at everything he does because of his natural talents and determination. I know a few. Lucky him and you, there are tougher challenges out there for both of you.

Don't think enforcing failure is the answer, but maybe encouragement to see things from another point of view. Volunteering in the local community, tutoring a younger kid, maybe a holiday to a more deprived part of the world. Encouraging more emotional intelligence quotients, means you don't concentrate so much on the self

pushmepullyou Fri 19-Apr-13 18:22:14

I am like your DSS. There isn't really anything anyone could have done about it tbh. It is just my basic personality type.

One thing that has helped me as I have got older is the realisation that I can't be 'best' at everything at least not simulataneously - there just isn't enough time to put in! Now I have 2 or 3 things that I strive to be best at and make sure that I have other things that I do where I am not best (or even particularly good!)

Of course there are inevitably occasions when I don't do something as well as I want to at something important to me. But as you get older you realise that this is inevitable and the only way you get to be at the top is to keep going through the setbacks and learn how to do better next time.

He could also try meditation if you think he would go for it. It's great for calming a hypercritical mind

tatletale Fri 19-Apr-13 18:28:12

I read it as the problem is that Ops DSS was to devoted at being too good at everything, and then can't handle it and panics when he's not?

If so, I agree, it won't hurt to get it checked out as that's not a normal, healthy coping strategy.

On a side night: Have the SM head hunters taken the night off? I've never seen a SF thread so devoid of abuse and insults! Amazing!

DontmindifIdo Fri 19-Apr-13 18:28:59

OP - this trait is not a bad thing. Schools like Westminster deliberately teach this way of thinking (ie. getting an A* at GCSE is not good enough if it's less than a certain % so they make them retake the next year anyway).

Most people don't care enough, so long as they've passed it's ok, so they don't fulfill their potential and then do "ok" and "ok" could be (like me before anyone starts having a go at me looking down on others) getting Bs at A level, getting a 2.2 from a red brick uni and getting the sort of job that doesn't change the world, but pays £15k over the average wage, so I think I'm doing 'ok'.

However, having mixed with the perfectionists, they are the ones who are earning six figure salaries by the time they are 30 and then going stellar, they are the ones who don't think "ok" is good enough and they push themselves to be the best - people who don't push themselves to be the best very rarely are the best.

And this will look odd, because few people are like this, but then few people earn £1m+, hate to say it, but some people are just better than others at stuff and harder working. He's hard working, talented, clever and good looking, he is going to be one of life's winners, stop trying to drag him down to mediocre like everyone else.

Dawndonna Fri 19-Apr-13 18:30:08

Jesus wept. Counselling. Because he's bright and clever and handsome and funny and TOO GOOD AT STUFF.
Alternatively because he's over reacting to something he shouldn't. A bit of counselling sounds like it may give him some perspective.

PregnantPain Fri 19-Apr-13 18:31:40

I can't even bring myself to type how much of a twat you sound oh wait

Freddiemisagreatshag Fri 19-Apr-13 18:32:08


I have one like this. He learnt the hard way eventually and is still learning. I never ever even considered counselling for him. It's who he is, it's a part of his personality, just as much as his very bright but very lazy sibling.

Alibabaandthe40nappies Fri 19-Apr-13 18:33:08

He will learn, or maybe he won't need to?

He sounds a lot like my youngest brother, who currently at not yet 30 earns an obscene amount of money and has a lovely house and lifestyle.

Leave him alone.

Alibabaandthe40nappies Fri 19-Apr-13 18:34:47

OP perhaps you need to get some counselling for yourself, to deal with your jealousy issues?

formicaqueen Fri 19-Apr-13 18:36:18

let him try this app for the iplayer/phone.

Positivity with Andrew Johnson

Freddiemisagreatshag Fri 19-Apr-13 18:37:23

The thing is, if he's capable of over 90 all the rest of the time, then he should be feeling bad and like he failed. Because to his standard, he did.

And I'd have told him that too if I felt he had slacked or not put in enough effort.

FreudiansSlipper Fri 19-Apr-13 18:37:40

what is wrong with the way he is

he will deal with it over time

DontmindifIdo Fri 19-Apr-13 18:38:23

Yep Alibabaandthe40nappies has a point - OP, do you see your DSS massively over achieving compared to you? It's easy to say someone had great opportunities, or were just naturally gifted, or probably just used an old boy network/family contacts etc to get where they are, but up close when you see it's just they worked harder than everyone else and made more of themselves, it's hard not so think "i could have done more with my life if I wasn't happy to do ok and didn't think failing now and then wasn't a big deal."

stealthsquiggle Fri 19-Apr-13 18:38:36

I recognise this worry. You clearly can't sabotage him, but I agree that you need to find something that can teach him that it's okay to fail.

I would be a bit angry with the school that he has got to 16 without someone addressing this, TBH. My DS is like this, and would always refuse to try things and/or hate the results because they didn't meet his expectations. I don't know how they have done it, but I could hug his art and DT teachers, as he has finally started coming home with age-appropriately imperfect projects which he is really pleased with. He is 10. He still puts way too much pressure on himself in academic work, though, but the school are aware and trying to teach him coping mechanisms, as are we.

stealthsquiggle Fri 19-Apr-13 18:40:35

To those ridiculing the worry - everyone meets something they can't excel at sometime. I would rather my DS learned to deal with that now rather than having a nervous breakdown when it hits him as an adult.

wonderingagain Fri 19-Apr-13 18:41:00

YANBU to be concerned about his anxiety. YABU about intervening in the way you suggest. You need to work on DH where all this stems from.

How is he with losing a board game?

Fiddlesticks8 Fri 19-Apr-13 18:41:02

yes it's weird, yes it's probably not preparing him for life and yes it's down right annoying with you as the stepmother and your DH not agreeing with you.
Take it from a 'wicked stepmother' you simply must do nothing, say nothing and tolerate it....try not to interfere as you 'll only get yourself wound up - go out and have some time away from father and son, you ll feel better.

Its so hard when issues come up with 'other people's children' as you feel that you have little control over it but you simply have to stand back and wait ... until you are asked for your help or your opinion.

Stay strong and go out for a few hours x

TalkativeJim Fri 19-Apr-13 18:41:17


The weirdness is strong in you, OP.

JustinBsMum Fri 19-Apr-13 18:41:28

My DCs (2 normally v laid back or even lazy, 1 harder working) were v stressed by the final year in their degree. DS developed psoriasis for the first time, all looked knackered.

I would try some counseling or just some info from a suitable self-help type book, about his over striving to be best, before he is left home and out of reach.

SwishSwoshSwoosh Fri 19-Apr-13 18:41:30

Have you asked him how he feels and why it matters so much?

I would just tell him you love him just as much whatever score, so long as he has tried, and then move on.

He needs to feel disappointment to learn to deal with it, so if this is the first time, it will be hard for him.

Floggingmolly Fri 19-Apr-13 18:42:31

Your DH very much is a pushy parent, I'm afraid.

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