DS and DP...the saga :-(

(33 Posts)
Crazyfruitsalad Tue 16-Jun-15 12:41:04

DP and now are due to get married at the end of the year. We’ve been living together for 2 years and we both have children from previous marriages. DP’s DC live with their mum and my DS, who is 16, lives with us. When we first got together, DS and DP got on like a house on fire but now DP seems to have nothing but contempt for DS, and DS doesn’t really help himself. A few weeks ago, I overheard somebody saying that teenagers are like toddlers, and have to be monitored all the time. That’s where we are with it: DS won’t even brush his teeth without being told. He seems to have forgotten every single good habit and values that I worked so hard to instil in him. And we’ve had theft too, on quite a few occasions now. It’s everything, from his lack of motivation to work hard at school, to personal hygiene, us not being able to have any treats in the fridge / cupboard, always locked in the bathroom, and now not being able to keep money in the house. He’s not doing drugs or drinking and he doesn’t stay out with mates or go off without telling anyone, but DP is finding it incredibly hard to deal with DS’ bad habits at home and the constant stealing / lying / deceit. DP, on the other hand, seems to have become obsessed with DS. He checks and monitors everything, I finish work and the first thing I get is a full report of what DS has and hasn’t done, etc. I am NOT saying that DP’s frustration and anger is unjustified but I also suspect that his stress over other things is being channelled into DS, as he’s done that sort of thing before – our lives would be perfect if only DS wasn’t so problematic. Again, I am not taking away the fact that DS is effectively robbing us off our rights to have a home that’s safe and harmonious!

The wedding comes into it as I’ve mentioned to DP before how he finds time to go and count how many bags of crisps have gone missing from the cupboard but not 5 minutes to look at the drinks list for the ceremony or the readings. I’ve explained that as much as I respect his right to voice his anger, I am sad that he’s not finding time or energy for any of the positive things happening in our lives right now. Not to mention that I finish a very intense and stressful day at work, and before I’ve even had a chance to say ‘hello’, I am already getting an account of DS’ daily movements. We parted in bad terms this morning, which is very unusual. The day started with DS did this and that, bla bla bla and I pointed out that if only DP could find just a fraction of that ‘enthusiasm’ to talk about our wedding.

I’ve seen DP doing this before, when he had a lodger in his house ages ago and with one of his old bosses. It becomes an obsession that seems to consume him and he can think of nothing else. In the meantime, time is flying by, we still have lots to sort out and instead of enjoying the journey we spend our time together talking about DS.

Helps?!?!

truthwithin Tue 16-Jun-15 12:59:34

As the mother of a teenage son I would say this is perfectly normal.

Teenage boys are an absolute pain in the ass.

I would speak to DP about setting aside some time to discuss wedding things so you can focus on just that.

Mommyusedtobecool Tue 16-Jun-15 13:08:57

Hi there! I can totally understand your stress and how torn you must feel between the two of them.
I think what you describe from you DS sounds like totally normal behaviour for his age. He doesn't sound like a bad kid.
I have 7,and so I have to be strict with food and snacking and also.. But dont think I'd go as far as counting bags of crisps!
And I know for a fact they help themselves to my treats all the time.
But that too is quite normal child behaviour. Although it's good to encourage honesty and respect for others things, that's important. But he's a growing lad and so will need more energy than probably you and your partner.
It sounds like your DP is picking on every tiny thing he does. Which must be quite hard for your son to live comfortably..
And if you're working so hard then why can't your child eat fgs?!
I think maybe you should consider these issues a priority before wedding arrangements. Because it's a life long commitment and maybe you don't like his attitude, and maybe he resents your son living there. Which will make for an uncomfortable life, post wedding celebrations. You could end up resenting eachother. Could the real issue be the fact your DP doesn't like sharing you with DS. And not about sharing food/a bathroom/ other things..
Hope you can work things out so your partner backs off a little and let's your son act his age. He needs to get a hobby, other than counting crisp bags. smile

MeridianB Tue 16-Jun-15 13:19:35

Is your DP increasingly obsessed because he feels you are not paying (what he feels is) enough attention to these issues or that he is waiting for you to solve them and keeps going on? (Not criticising you, just genuine question).

It sounds as if (like many people) he's not terribly comfortable living with others and so what may seem like small issues to some can become really huge bugbears to him, especialy if they are allowed to persist.

How old are his DC and how long has he lived apart from them? If he has never lived with a teen then he may have unrealistic expectations of what they tend to do and not do.

I'd be tempted to get him to write down every single thing that annoys him or that he feels is unacceptable behaviour then rank them in order of most to least annoying and then tackle the top one or two together.

That way you can show him some support whilst also encouraging him to pick his battles.

Crazyfruitsalad Tue 16-Jun-15 13:28:53

Thank you both! I am not going mad after all wink

Funny how often my thought was precisely "get a hobby, ffs!". It's like DP is obsessed. At the moment, DS goes through 1 loo roll a day and DP is counting them. It's true that we can't have ice cream in the freezer etc as DS just eats it all - you know, you go to look for it one evening and realises that it's all gone.

The money theft is pretty serious though and I can't believe we've come to this.

I do wonder how DP would deal with his own children if they lived with him. I couldn't see that ending well... I don't know what to do. I've even used the example of one of this friends, whose son has gone really off the rails (drugs etc) and who married his new partner last year. She's got two children from a previous relationship (much younger than the lad, who is 17) and they all live together. Can you image what this couple's relationship would be like if one of the adults was to react like DP? With children under their roof, and one a teenager going through some serious issues?

I don't know what to do as I've tried to talk to DP but to no avail... I don't know what else to do.

MeridianB Tue 16-Jun-15 13:33:42

How much did he steal and who from? Any idea what he spent it on? It could be some kind of cry for attention? What was the consequence for your DS?

Crazyfruitsalad Tue 16-Jun-15 13:40:54

MeridianB

Hello and thank you :-)

DP's children are younger than DS and DP has lived away from them since the youngest one was 1 year old. I agree with you that DP likes things 'just so'.

I don't believe that I can do any more than I already have. Say for example the toilet paper issue: I've talked, explained, punished, made DS buy it (regularly) from his pocket money, screamed out of sheer frustration etc. Nothing that I've done has resulted in a change of behaviour. The same with the treats: I've explained that we are entitled to have things there too, that he gets his own etc etc. I would understand DP's reaction if I wasn't supporting him but all the issues are ones that I've battled with and have tried to tackle all along - meaning that he's got my full support. I don't make excuses for DS' behaviour and when he once took my card from my purse (and drew money out), I went to our local police station with him. Now, he's taken money from DP three times (that we know of) and DP is furious with him.

Mommyusedtobecool Tue 16-Jun-15 13:42:46

I think you and only you should deal with your ds issues at this moment, incase dp is unable to be fair.
Definitely stealing money is not acceptable and he'll have to learn some consequences so the problem doesn't spiral.
But bathroom time and bog roll..
That's pretty normal. Although a little annoying!
I send my 13 yo ds to bed at 9.30 and he's still in and out of the bathroom hours later.
It irritates the hell out of me! And sometimes I think it's his way of encroaching on mine and my partners time in the evening and staying up. Albeit in the bathroom lol.
Your DS is entering that stage of being between a young adult and a child.
It can be a bit lonely going to bed earlier on his own.. Maybe he could stay up half an hour longer and share ice creams with you before going to bed?
Perhaps a few positive grown up privileges can make him want to act more responsibly..
And maybe you could get him to do some jobs around the house or encourage him to get a weekend job so he has his own money and appreciates the value of it. He could buy his own snacks.. And maybe ask him to buy some loo roll on his way home. Then maybe he'll use less wink

Crazyfruitsalad Tue 16-Jun-15 13:44:25

Previously, he had taken over £100 from DP's drawer. This last time, he took £80 and it was all spent on junk / take away food and rubbish. DS works part-time and he's earning pretty good money for his age, but he hasn't got a penny to show for it as he spends it all on rubbish. The one thing that he's keeping up at the moment is his job, with lots of precise and a promotion in a very short period of time. But even then, he will go wearing dirty clothes if I don't force him to get changed. It's crazy.

PenelopePitstops Tue 16-Jun-15 13:50:16

I think your ds sounds possibly depressed or low self esteem and your dp isn't helping.

He is supposed to be the adult. Sit down with your son and agree new ground rules with simple but effective consequences if he break them. Eg eats your food, has to buy it back.

He sounds hungry too if he is spending money on food, could you leave healthier snacks at home for him?

Ds needs to understand he is almost and adult and start acting like one, but so does your dp.

Mommyusedtobecool Tue 16-Jun-15 13:52:53

It sounds like your dp maybe feels you didn't resolve some big issues and so everything your son does now gets to him.
Your DS sounds like he's wondering through life half asleep and ignoring you.
Is he stuck to his phone/tablet?
You need to spend time engaging him.without these distractions kids have nowadays.. It can make them so detached I find. And sometimes beneath this nonchalance is actually depression..
Maybe have a day or two without the electronic devices? Good old fashioned bonding can increase respect and understanding..

Crazyfruitsalad Tue 16-Jun-15 13:53:13

Hi mommy, DS has been helping around the house since he was a toddler. Little things like helping set up the table and then progressing / increasing it as he grew older. He's also had quite a few paid jobs elsewhere, from newspaper delivery to café work so he should know how much it takes to earn money and perhaps be a bit wiser with how spends it. Never mind taking something that isn't his!!

Because he's 16, his bed time is around 10pm and we always have dinner together as a family. We do try to encourage him to sit and watch a bit of telly with us afterwards or to come to the gym with us before dinner but he never wants to, and prefers to busy himself with virtual conversations with his friends.

The toilet issue is also a little more complex. DS is always in there. Whenever he's at home, it's rare when we don't have to get him to come out before we can use it - try finding somebody locked in there almost every time you need to pee. This has always been a problem, just like him going through mountains of toilet roll. What I am trying to say is that all the issues that are there now, have been there since before DP and drive me up the wall too. On that basis, I don't believe that it's attention seeking.

BertPuttocks Tue 16-Jun-15 13:55:31

Of the two people you describe in your OP, it's actually your dp who sounds the most exhausting to live with.

Counting bags of crisps and toilet paper and rushing to report it sounds like utterly bizarre behaviour. It's as though your dp has set himself up in competition with your ds and is saying "Miss! Miss! He's been naughty, Miss!"

CiderwithBuda Tue 16-Jun-15 14:06:08

Well tbh a roll of toilet paper a day is excessive. Not the cost issue but what on earth is he doing with it? I assume he is at school most of the day? My DS is 13 and has a tendency to use too much and it blocks the toilet.

Snacks and ice creams - teen boys are usually bottomless pits and don't think of anything like "if I take the last one there will be none left".

Stealing money is serious and needs serious consequences. If I were your DP I would be livid.

Why does your DS think it is acceptable to steal money?

I'm not saying your DP is right to launch into a tirade every day but I can kind of get his frustration. Stealing once is bad but to go on and steal again is completely unacceptable. What were the consequences the first time?

Mommyusedtobecool Tue 16-Jun-15 14:17:17

I understand the stress these issues are causing. And the careful balance you have to strike.
Did he admit to stealing money?
Can't understand what would motivate that behaviour, if he's used to working and earns his own.. :/
Have you had a 121 with your son about it without the presence of your DP?
Are you sure it was him?

MeridianB Tue 16-Jun-15 14:26:31

I really would prefer not to think about this but surely it's obvious what a 16-year-old is doing constantly locked in the bathroom and getting through huge amounts of loo roll?

Perhaps he could be encouraged to do it in his room instead?
bleugh

Stealing money is really bad. What did he say about it the first time and then this time? Is he paying it back?

hoobygalooby Tue 16-Jun-15 14:39:57

My thoughts exactly MeridianB shockshock
OP apart from the money stealing which is serious and needs dealing with, everything else you describe is just normal teenage behaviour.
Your DP is the problem here and he needs to back off and stop telling tales and counting crisps and loo roll!

Melonfool Tue 16-Jun-15 14:50:10

A lot of that sounds like normal teen behaviour - read this (and get dp to too): www.amazon.co.uk/Get-Out-Life-bestselling-teenagers/dp/1781253315/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1434462039&sr=8-1&keywords=take+me+into+town

But the stealing (which is again not that abnormal) obviously needs sanctions - no internet for a week/until he's paid it back etc.

The eating - 14yo dss does this and I have told him a million times he can eat whatever he wants as long as he eats his meals, which he doesn't. He refuses to eat pretty much anything presented as a meal. But, anyway, yes, growing, no 'food boundaries' etc, it's all teen stuff.

The loo roll/bathroom is unusual. Do you know what he does in there? is it maybe the only place he feels you[dp] cannot 'spy' on him? If he is using that much looroll I think I'd be asking him if he had a tummy issue and taking him to the GP.

I think I agree with the others too that the wedding should be a low priority, it sounds as if both of them are feeling 'left out' somehow.

Melonfool Tue 16-Jun-15 14:52:22

Now, why didn't I think of that Meridian! (yuck!)

PeruvianFoodLover Tue 16-Jun-15 23:01:55

Ds needs to understand he is almost and adult and start acting like one, but so does your dp.

Thing is, there aren't "adult" consequences for him at home, are there? What would happen if he stole £180 from his employer? Or from a colleague at work?
While your DPs reaction is unhelpful and not the least bit constructive, i imagine he feels helpless. Your DS is treating him with less respect than he treats his workmates, and none of the consequences that are being put in place are making any difference. It's a big expectation of anyone, living with someone who has no respect for other people's feelings or belongings. Parents don't enjoy living with teens when they are like this, but as parents, they have a responsilbity - your DP is facing the same unpleasantness from a child he has no responsibility towards.

I'll be honest with you, OP, if my DD had repeatedly stolen from my DP, I'd expect him to call off the wedding, and if he didn't, then I probably would. I wouldn't want his life to be affected by my teens behaviour that I wasn't confident I could manage. It's one thing for your teen to steal from you as a parent, another to steal from a stepparent, imo.

You don't mention your DS's Dad - is he on the scene at all?

Wdigin2this Tue 16-Jun-15 23:53:27

I have read this thread right through, and tbh, my first concern would be...what did he steal the money for?? You say he spent it on rubbish, how do you know, and £180 is a lot of crisps and ice cream! I can't imagine what he uses a whole roll of toilet tissue for every day....maybe Meridian is right, but at least that could be expected from a teenage boy!
I'd be checking his room carefully when he's out, and before anyone screams 'intrusion of privacy' this is a 16 year old child, and it could be a lot more serious matter than crisps and loo rolls!

Melonfool Wed 17-Jun-15 00:14:09

I stole a lot of money from my mother when I was a teen, hundreds of pounds (in fact, it wasn't her money and she had to take out a bank loan to pay it back) and that was worth a lot more thirty years ago - and I spent it on junk food and make up.
It was a bit different, my parents didn't feed us properly, and my stealing was very much part of general depression/anxiety/being disturbed. But my point is you can easily spend it on junk food.

Wdigin2this Wed 17-Jun-15 00:44:46

I do see your point Melon, but you stole to buy food, 'cos you were hungry, and junk food is all you probably knew to buy! But in this case it appears the boy is properly fed, what I was suggesting is that he spends a lot of time in the bathroom and his bedroom....both of which are red flags! If the OP checks his room and finds nothing to worry her, fantastic, she can then maybe address his eating regime, and maybe bulk up his meals to keep him full! But I would check anyway...before it's too late!

Timri Fri 19-Jun-15 02:09:41

Hi I know that this is a few days old, but just thought I'd add that as a teen I used to steal money from my mums (then) boyfriend.
I spent it all on crap (magazines, make up, chip shop etc)
When questioned I didn't actually know why I'd done it.
My mums boyfriend was a bully, and picked on me constantly.
Looking back I know why I did it, because I was depressed, and I suppose I was looking for a way to get back at him and exert a bit of control in a situation I felt utterly powerless about, although I didn't understand that at the time.
I'm not saying that your DP is a bully, but he certainly seems a bit over zealous, maybe it's overwhelming DS, and the stealing is his way of trying to gain some control over the situation.
All I'm saying is that while stealing is certainly a problem, and he needs to learn it's not acceptable, it may just be a symptom of THE problem IYSWIM.
Just thought I'd add this as another point of view, as I've been there and done that.

I hope the situation improves for you all.

chocoraisin Fri 19-Jun-15 09:49:35

hello, it seems very complex. I'd be trying to cut through some of this by reconnecting with your DS. It sounds like he feels lonely in the house, and is isolating himself.

Also, I don't want to be alarmist, but I really would check out what he's up to in the bathroom for all that time. It's become rather fashionable with teens to mess around with things like cutting, and while you may not think self-harm is likely at all, if there's a possibility he is depressed, and is engaged in other risky behaviour (like stealing for no reason/kicks), seems numb to consequences etc then I would certainly not rule out self-harm before checking it out. My nephew (and at least four of his classmates) went through this last year, aged 15/16. He's sorted out now, but he drove his poor mum spare when it was going on and it wasn't dissimilar stuff. A spell of counselling at school and a lot of quality time with mum has helped ease him back to a better place.

Hope that it is sorted soon, best wishes

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