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I'm raising my step son. But I can't stand him.

(62 Posts)
Mommyusedtobecool Mon 15-Jun-15 17:05:02

Where do I start?!
I have 7 children in total. 3 sons are from a previous marriage 2 (a boy and girl) are my step children and 2 are my youngest from my new partner.
My step children live with me full time.
Their mother has had nothing to do with them since they were 3 and 4 years old.
They are now 9 and 10.
I have been in their lives since they were 5 and 6.
However, in the very beginning, my step son, the older of the 2 was extremely violent towards my own children.
He would spit in their faces, straighten paper clips to stab them, generally attack them if they disagreed with anything and sabotage their things. Even their bunk beds base, so they would fall through.
He is roughly the same age as the youngest of my 3 sons.
My children can have their annoying moments sometimes, But because their father and I raised them to be considerate to others and we were both quite soft natured - so are my 3 boys.
After this initial encounter and the lack of understanding from my new partner, and other issues we didn't try to merge the two families, (living together) until we had a child together and she was a year and a half.
Now my step sons behaviour has improved
He's not fraction as impulsively violent as he was. And hes getting into the routine of family life.
But He still has moments where he threatens his sister and step brothers and even my 2 year old and he can still be very manipulative and also sadistic in his threats.
He is the only child I have never been hard on because he seems so complex. I have told him off a few times and he always bursts into tears immediately even though he knows I'm just going to talk to him calmly about his behaviour. But it doesn't seem to change his selfish and spiteful nature. He's obnoxious and defiant to me and my family, even though theyre so warm to him and we've made the effort to be the constance in his life.
Ive lost sleep and stressed so much about him and what's going on in his head.
I want to be able to hug him and be close because I think he might be craving that from me. But his behaviour and his constant need to dominate my entire focus makes me resent him instead.
His dad/my partner is quite nonchalant. He doesn't really engage with his own children, or mine, only with our babies. So the burden of dealing with the issues of 5 children from 2 failed marriages is entirely down to me.
I imagine my own children having the life my stepson had and not having the love of their mummy and it makes me understand why he is the way he is and I weep inside, that's the only way I can consciously make the effort to give him the closeness kids need. And although he can have a few moments now, when he's quite funny and charming, I don't feel the natural compulsion to like him. I feel awkward in his company. I feel so wicked. But I think most his siblings do too.
One of my sons and he really don't get along, so my son (who is a year older than him) will avoid him and stay in his room the whole time. And he has also been referred to a paediatrician due to extreme headaches brought on by the stress.
I have to fight the feeling that I just don't like my step son and the affect he's had on family life.

Kids have their moments. I don't know if I make him out to be worse than he is in my mind by over- analysing all his behaviour, instead of just dealing with him in the same manner as I do his sister and my own boys.
But he's always expected and received preferential treatment from my inlaws as their first and only grandson and I think that over compensation may have led to his bratty behaviour.
I don't like him but at the same time, I put myself in his shoes and feel so sorry for him.

popalot Mon 15-Jun-15 17:15:27

He sounds like he is suffering a mental health issue, possibly some sort of attachment issue, due to the lack of motherly love from his mother in his early life. I would try and get CAMHS involved. Speak to the school, ask if they have noticed any behaviours. Speak to your doctor aswell. Basically, if a mother detaches from a child in their early years (pre-3) it can cause lots of problems for that child attaching to other people and interacting with them.

The crying quickly is a sign of low resilience, which can be part of the problem as he was not taught how to deal with his emotions by his parents in his early years. It means something a healthy mind can work through he can't. Children with low resilience can have a melt down if someone wins a game they are playing or if someone tells them 'no' because they don;t know how to deal with it.

What you are describing is very hard to deal with as a carer and you need to get him lots of help and yourself some help too because there are certain things you can do to improve his mental health, you just need the right professional to tell you what to do. Quite often with children who have this sort of issue it can feel like you are stood on a cliff and don't know what to do next. I'm sure with the right help you can move forward and grow to enjoy his company, and him yours.

popalot Mon 15-Jun-15 17:17:13

ps in reality his father should be doing this, but you say he is not supportive . Hopefully, once you get the ball rolling, he will get onboard and see the benefits.

SunshineAndShadows Mon 15-Jun-15 17:19:34

I'd add that the attachment issues probably stem from not just the loss of his mother but also the persistent disinterest of his father - the poor boy - how can you tolerate your DH's disinterest in his own children? He needs to step up, for you and his children.

Mommyusedtobecool Mon 15-Jun-15 17:38:38

@popular thankyou so much for your kind advice, I'm definitely going to try these avenues. And regarding his father's disinterest, it is an issue that has driven our relationship to the brink. It the commitment I've made to his children and being reminded of this by my own parents, that keeps me here. Even though I feel like I've bitten off so much more than I can handle.
I have spoken to my partner about his sons issues and its such a sensitive nerve for my partner I'm afraid to touch, that it usually only comes out during an argument. It makes me resent him for never dealing with it.
But I'm definitely going to speak to the school and doctors and see if we can get some support. Thankyou x

stevienickstophat Tue 16-Jun-15 07:03:40

Can I just say, you sound absolutely brilliant and your stepson is lucky to have you in his life.


Your partner is being hugely unfair, and in the long run you can't shoulder the whole burden. It's simply not sustainable. Your partner needs to step up, NOW, and be left knowing in no uncertain terms what he stands to lose if he doesn't.

How dare he drop this all onto you? Get angry and get him on board!

Mommyusedtobecool Tue 16-Jun-15 09:17:05

@stevienickstophat Thankyou for your kind support.
Re his father, I will try to engage him, as it makes me angry too! He seems to just put his head in the sand, even though he contributed to the factors that have lead to his sons issues.. And his family/my inlaws who helped him raise the two kids prior to me have just totally spoilt this kid. Let him bully kids at school, just shower him with things and money and not given him any boundaries or structure at all, which is very different to how they treated the girl. But she's a much nicer person for all the boundaries and expectations they had of her.
His dad denies there is a problem at all. But although his son tries so hard to pretend to be an angel infront of his dad only, things do slip! And I think he knows that there's an underlying problem. But his dad seems either extremely selfish or out of his depth.
When I do bring it up he accuses me of singling him out and hating him.
Then I'm left questioning myself and feeling awfully guilty. But I'm the only one that does anything with this kid so it can't be that I just hate him for no reason or I wouldn't worry or make the effort. I think it's the fact he gets away with being a monster that singles him out.
His dad uses cheap shots at me like a kid and it works for a short time.
If I knew what a clueless parent he was I'd have steered clear in the beginning. Because I feel like a single parent. My whole life is consumed just by trying to re-adress the balance and try and give these children a healthy and happy childhood. [

Although my step son has moments when he can join in with the family and we can all have a good time.. The other children are still on edge because they know his temperament.
I can never trust him alone with my younger children, because although he can make the right gestures infront of others, toward the baby and my toddler,
Ive heard him being quite mean to my toddler when they're in his room and he thinks no one's listening. He threatened to burn her sandals with a lighter. Because she moved something of his.
And when my baby son was born, his emotions were all over the place when an inlaw visited and he wasn't the centre of attention.
He's extremely intelligent, almost genius. But makes up so many believable stories. He's actually a talented writer too smile.
Which also gives me an insight to how he's feeling.

His dad is neglectful when it comes to positive interaction. But he's never been hard on him, never smacked him. (even when he totally deserved it)
But when our baby boy was born, he was jealous and unable to cope with the fact he wasn't his dad's only boy anymore.
He would blame his dad for his violent outbursts. By saying my dad does that to me. Which I know for a fact his father has never been aggressive towards him.

He was understandably angry towards his father at being pushed out by this baby. And also extremely jealous. (which is exactly what I feared would be the case) he does naturally have a strong sense of entitlement. And get extremely jealous of anyone else. But I think he doesn't understand this so has to legitimise his feelings of anger by telling himself that people have made a direct attack on him.
But the fact that he made a very believable story that made me feel sorry for him instead of punish him for his violence, shows how incredibly aware and manipulative he can be. And its quite scary to think that he could convince others that he's actually being abused sad.

stevienickstophat Tue 16-Jun-15 09:19:34

Are you with this man because you don't want to desert his children?

pinkbraces Tue 16-Jun-15 09:25:04

I think you sound like a very dedicated step mum and you really want to help you DSS however I think you need to get out, quickly.

You really don't want to look back at the damage caused to your own children and regret not leaving. I would think your own son being referred to a paediatrician is the wake up call you need. Your own children need to be prioritised.

Your partner is a fuckwit

spanky2 Tue 16-Jun-15 09:27:56

What is he like at school? I think your step son needs some professional support. Also you and his father need some support on how to deal with him. As you can argue he is a danger to himself and others you should be able to get help. Is his father sticking his head in the sand because he doesn't know how to deal with him? He sounds unhappy and insecure. He is lucky to have someone who cares.

spanky2 Tue 16-Jun-15 09:29:23

I agree with pinkbraces about the affect on your own son.

popalot Tue 16-Jun-15 09:29:46

Yes, children with this issue have a problem with authority and will try and triangulate; they will say one thing to a parent and another to another to divide and conquer. It is a triangle because they are at the bottom and the two people they are trying to control are at the top but at different corners. he may do it with school eg. have teacher in one corner saying one thing to them and parent in another. Often it's about how parents are treating them or how a teacher is treating them and can involve exaggeration or outright lies about treatment. It is a control method used by children who are a bit bright and it makes them feel safer to think they have the measure of everyone.

However, he is angry with his dad for a reason because he senses his lack of boundaries have made him feel unsafe, although he won't know that he is feeling this way because it is probably how he has always felt.

I feel for you having so many children to care for and not much support from father. I hope that once you get on the road to recovery for this boy things will become easier and dad will get on board too. But if he doesn't get on board with whatever method a professional suggests to you you will have problems. At the end of the day, you have to look after your other children too. It's tricky.

AliceAnneB Tue 16-Jun-15 09:37:26

Do you have parental rights for your stepkids? If not you might consider filing for it if you want that level of commitment. Your husband sounds like he needs lots of help as a parent but if it's become a hot button issue then perhaps he would take it better from a professional. It sounds like the whole family could benefit from family counselling where they help with the dynamic within the family. And you just won stepmum of the year - just sayin. Mumsnet should sew you a cape.

JessiePinkman Tue 16-Jun-15 09:51:54

Oh this sounds incredibly hard, you really need the support of your partner, it shouldn't all fall to you. Could his grandparents take a more active role seeing as they get on so well? Stay there for the weekend for instance or take him out on his own?
I feel my son has low resilience where does it come from & how can I help?

Mommyusedtobecool Tue 16-Jun-15 10:07:22

Thanks for the feedback everybody.
It is a dilemma. Because while I do love my partner.. And hes good at other stuff. Like he's a good cook... he's just not a good parent. He acknowledges the kids from time to time, but he's more like an older brother that's not involved.
And I really hope that we get help.
Because I am afraid of him. And I'm afraid for all his siblings if he turns out to be a total psychopath when he's older :/
He's never been violent towards me. But he's so so clever.
When I was pregnant and made his father tell him off for his behaviour. He sat in the kitchen where we were and said in a playful and really subtle voice several times "you're gonna die" to me. It went totally undetected by his dad who is used to ignoring him and maybe thought he was playing a game. But he wasn't, he was just sat on the stool fixated at me.
I didn't know how to respond, so I had to ignore it instead.
He's only 10 so I'm not afraid he could harm me. But I am worried for others and for when he grows up, if that's where his mind is at.
And its worth pointing out he's not like this every day. It's just his response to certain situations and not getting his own way.

But if I did leave, and I have considered it. It would harm his own well being. Ive been the only consistent person in his life. And I can see sometimes the relief he shows when I tell him off because knowing the boundaries does make him feel safe.
Also, my husband is very attached to our younger two, it would trigger a war!
And what about his long suffering sister?
She's not my own either. And she's very protective over him, even though he's quite hateful towards her. She'd be left to suffer with him on her own. And potentially my younger children would suffer too if their dad had weekends with them and he never acknowledged the threat his son poses. It would be such a huge worry and totally out of my control and in the hands of his incompetent father.
These are the reasons I've considered that I can't walk away. Kind of trapped.
But Im really positive, I want to fix this kid. And I want him to grow up and be a beautiful Smart young man that makes me proud. I hope he'll look back and say "wow there was a time I was a bit of a shit, but I'm the total opposite now" and laugh as you do when you get older and wiser.
I really hope the other children are strong enough and I can help them too so that they're not made miserable by him.
I am really proud of how understanding and patient they are with him. And I'm grateful that they're old enough to walk to my mums house to get some space from him.
Which I know, ironically he and his dad just think is unfair privilege. As he only gets to go to nannies, when I'm there too.
Sorry to go on and on. This feels like therapy! Such a complex set of issues and needs to balance.

Mommyusedtobecool Tue 16-Jun-15 10:11:27

I wish my inlaws were more on-board, it would atleast give us some respite. But they live in Sweden. The times they do visit, they really spoil him and indulge his obnoxious behaviour. Which tends to totally undermine me Instead. Plus as a contrast to my own family

Mommyusedtobecool Tue 16-Jun-15 10:21:38

My own family absorb my step kids and are loving, where as my inlaws totally ignore my children's existence which makes for a very strange and awkward atmosphere.
But luckily somehow my boys are resilient and don't really cry out for attention. I'm able to have frank conversations about any concerns or awkwardness with my 3 boys which im So thankful they have the personalities they do.
And in response to AliceAnneB, I don't have parental rights. I'm not even officially married to my partner. We had a religious ceremony but nothing on paper.
I'm not sure if he'll be on-board with any intervention from an outside entity, but I'm going to crack on! I have a fairly good communication with the school as my mum helps out there and I arrange all doctors appointments anyway.. I think maybe something of counselling and behaviour therapy could be the way forward.

Supervet Tue 16-Jun-15 10:46:31

He sounds like a little boy kicking off because he has been in effect rejected by both his Mum and Dad and had a blended family thrown into the mix on top.

Think about how you would feel if your Mum had left your life , your Dad basically ignored you and then you had step siblings and new babies thrown into the mix who were wanted and unrejected because I'm pretty sure that's how he will feel.

That's no insult to you btw but your partner.

I think he needs to talk to someone about his anger.

Poor little boy sad

Mommyusedtobecool Tue 16-Jun-15 10:59:09

Supervet I agree! It's a Pretty messed up combination of things for any kid to deal with. Although we try to make this blended family work. It's not ideal for him or alot of the kids.
If only foresight was as powerful as hindsight. Alot of decisions would have been made very differently.
Adult relationships and love can be a very selfish thing and its heartbreaking that it takes a while to emerge and see that your children have been collateral damage, when in reality they're the only ones you love unconditionally and never want to hurt.
I imagine myself in that situation and I'd be so upset and destroyed inside.
Every kid needs that basic thing. A mum and dad to belong to and parents that belong to him. It's the foundation of a healthy mind.
If I could track down his mother and make things right I would and I'm looking into it. But I don't know her at all and if she would potentially reject him all over again.
As a mother you tend to have hope that all mothers feel as protective and instinctively nurturing, but it's not always the case. But I'm.not writing her off. If she's out there somewhere I'd help her.

Mommyusedtobecool Tue 16-Jun-15 11:39:00

My inlaws haven't been so good at keeping intouch. But my step children obviously do have a good bond with them. So I arranged for them to travel to Sweden with their aunt to see their grandmother. His sister calls her mum. I was looking forward to having 2 weeks break and some time to pay my own children more attention. My step son understandably had mixed feelings, he was both excited and apprehensive to leave his dad and me, who he's become very attached to. He had a melt down which really broke my heart, cos I could see it played out infront of me.
His aunt and father were giving his baby brother attention and then his dad told him and my son off for being silly.
He was in tears on the stairs my mum came to him and then I did.
He started to talk about his mum. Which I encouraged because he never has done this before.
I told him it's ok to love her and remember her and talk about her. Even if his dad and dads family didn't like her.
He said his dad is the only one that raised him and he loves him cos if that, but doesn't much like him.
He also said that his mum never wanted his sister she only wanted him.
(which is the opposite of what his dad told me in confidence) so I figure he was trying to reassure himself.
I know he's insecure and that's a source of alot of his problems, so I wanted to give him a certainty that he could hold onto instead of something he was unsure of.
I had been thinking about how to make him feel secure and 'wanted' for weeks....
Then this conversation seemed like the right opportunity..
I confided in him something I hadn't spoke about in years.
I told him that the exact week he was born, although we didn't know eachother yet I was somewhere else in the world also giving birth to a very premature baby that had already passed away.. I came to terms with the fact that baby had to go and live with the angels and wasn't meant to live with me and soon after had my 3rd son who I'm very grateful for.
But then I said God does things, put people together, sometimes we don't know why, but sometimes he knows better and it works out for the best.
I said God delivered him to me as a blessing, for the baby I lost that year, that week, that day, something amazing was happening at the very same time - he was being born! And now we were together, I needed him and he needed me. And I said because of that he'll always be very special to me. Although I have alot of children I wanted him to know each one is very special to me. His mum will always be his mum and I'm sure she misses him and loves him.
It was a shot in the dark, but it seemed to touch him and cheer him up. And I was praying he wouldn't use that bit of information to be hurtful instead and he hasn't so far.

Melonfool Tue 16-Jun-15 15:19:08

I think maybe you need to stop thinking of him as 'very clever' and start thinking of him more as a bit lost and unable to cope. This:

"But he's so so clever.
When I was pregnant and made his father tell him off for his behaviour. He sat in the kitchen where we were and said in a playful and really subtle voice several times "you're gonna die" to me. "

doesn't sound clever, it sounds sad.

I think family therapy would be useful - mixing three families together was always going to be hard but with one absent birth mother, geographically distant extended family and a disinterested father this was always going to be very hard work I think.

Mommyusedtobecool Tue 16-Jun-15 15:55:11

I think you're right about therapy. Although I think his set of issues are quite personal to his circumstances. And the rest of the family seem to get on with life. So perhaps just him and his father and I..
His predicament is sad. And his behaviour, although explainable, makes it so hard for me to bond with him.
I maybe didn't use the best example to show how clever he is. But he's very daring, in that he does things infront of you but in such a subtle way that you question yourself.
Like today for instance, he was annoyed at his little 2 yo sister so he put his foot out to trip her over when she was running and said oops oh no in a 'concerned voice' at the same time to cover it up.
He doesn't show empathy for anyone else. He deliberately gets others into trouble for things he did and then watches with glee as they get told off.
Where as his sister will genuinely feel sorry for him even if he gets told off for something he actually did. (threatening to punch her face in)
He seems to be extremely manipulative with other children and also alot of adults. He accumulates his step brothers things by pressuring and threatening them. Sometimes stealing.
And he bullies children at school into handing over money and playing cards.
But will pretend to either be a complete angel or the victim. So unless he knows you know without a doubt what he's been upto, he doesn't give up the pretence.

LauraHashley Tue 16-Jun-15 16:12:15

I wouldn't want to put my own children through this. I can't see how they benefit in any way whatsoever from a step-sibling who's aggressive, manipulative, steals from them, a liar and violent. What's it teaching them?

Are you sure that you are prepared to be this boy's saviour for the next ten years.*Even at the expense of your own children's happiness and well being?*

You know it's not a sin to put your sanity and your own children's security and mental welfare first, right? You don't have to be a saint and you don't have to live with this.

Melonfool Tue 16-Jun-15 18:04:53

dp thought he was being clever teaching dss when he was young to always frame requests in a way that the other person benefitted more than him.
I think it's backfired, I think dss sounds manipulative and smug and it makes me even less likely to agree to whatever it is. He's not old enough to be able to do it in a sophisticated manner.

My point really was - I wonder where he picked up some of this behaviour?

Mommyusedtobecool Tue 16-Jun-15 19:16:34

Melonfool I agree! I really dislike when kids are smug and manipulative.
And I think alot of his manipulation was learnt when he figure out adults reactions - he's very observant. And some habits are alot I've dp! The compulsive lying the self entitlement and using others. - Which is why I get angry with his dad when I have a problem with him!
It's a case of 'the apple never falls far from the tree!'

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