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Strugging and sad

(39 Posts)
TheCakes Tue 13-Dec-16 11:19:40

I hope this is OK to post here.
I'm finding my family really hard to manage. I have two DS who live with us, my husband has no children of his own.
Over the years we've been married, DS1's behaviour has got increasingly worse. He is struggling at school, lots of worrying/risky behaviour (he's a teenager) and has some SEN although we struggle to get support or a proper diagnosis with them.
DH finds this impossible to deal with, as he just doesn't have that unconditional bond that I have with him.
They can barely be in the same room. DS stays with my mum in the week, which has enabled him to move to a better school with more support, although he's still getting into lots of trouble there.
This weekend it was my birthday - a milestone one. We planned a family lunch. DH was so stressed by the prospect of spending time together as a family he was snappy with everyone about getting ready (DS often looks scruffy and gets upset if we try and tidy him up). By the time we left, we were in full blown stress mode, and DH ended up not coming.
I had a nice time with my mum and boys but felt sad that for one day we can't do something as a family. It's not the first time he's bailed out of family events - in fact I think he's done it for everything I've planned with the boys in the last couple of years. I've definitely stayed in hotels with them on my own at least twice.
Honestly, I'm thinking of throwing the towel in. I know DS is really difficult, but I don't think the situation at home makes it any easier for him.
But then DS2 adores him and is thriving having a consistent father figure.
I've told DH he needs to sort his feelings out so many times over the years, but if it's a case that he simply can't cope and isn't happy, wouldn't it be kinder to just let him go?

Advice from the other side appreciated.

Graceflorrick Tue 13-Dec-16 11:26:50

You don't talk about how your DH's behaviour makes DS1 feel, OP. Why is that?

TheCakes Tue 13-Dec-16 11:34:04

He doesn't really tell me, unless they've had a falling out, when he'll say things like: "He hates me" or "there's no point asking him, he'll say no."
It's hard to know if he's saying it because they have argued (he says these things about me, but we make up after and have a laugh in between our struggles) or if he feels like that all the time.

TheCakes Tue 13-Dec-16 11:37:09

Also, I try and hide a lot of DH behaviour, so for example, when they asked why he wasn't at lunch, I said: "He's just not feeling great." They asked if that's why he was snapping at everyone, and I said "probably."
I try very hard to protect DS from DH feelings, and in his defence, so does DH by keeping out of the way.

Graceflorrick Tue 13-Dec-16 11:44:40

I see. How did he feel about having to move in with his DGM and start a new school. What I'm wondering is if perhaps he feels pushed out and is aware that your DH can't cope with him. I'd imagine that would be very damaging in terms of DSs emotional wellbeing and may well have augmented the challenging behaviours that he's displaying.

I think in the first instance, you need to have an open and honest conversation with both DSs, individually about how they are feeling about your family life and relationship, what's good and what could be better. Consider that information in relation to what you want and need, think about changes that you need to see from Dh and ask him if he will participate in a fresh start.

Graceflorrick Tue 13-Dec-16 11:46:52

Also OP, children are more perceptive than we give credit for, it's unlikely the boys wouldn't have picked up on your DHs feelings towards them, to include the possibility of favouring one over another. Potentially that could impact the boys relationship with each other, actually, it probably has already as they are jo longer living together in the week.

TheCakes Tue 13-Dec-16 11:51:02

He was really happy to move. I made it clear it was a choice and he could come home any time. I still see him midweek and meet him for coffee after school.
But yes, I think you are right about speaking to them.
DS2 is doing much better for having a bit of space at home. He was struggling living with DS1 too.
As for DH, I've told him I need him to change but he says he can't while DS is acting up all the time, as he can't recover from one thing before the next happens.
Tis a lonely old place, this.

Graceflorrick Tue 13-Dec-16 11:58:44

It's possible though, I guess that he was happy to move as he didn't feel wanted at home? I don't know, of course, but it's a possibility.

Is his behaviour better when you see him mid-week, just the two of you? If so, that would be quite telling.

OP, this does sound very difficult for you. Does DSs birth dad have much contact? Is he a positive male role model in DSs life?

pseudonymity Tue 13-Dec-16 12:07:02

I have been the child in a similar situation, it wasn't fun and my relationship with my mother has never recovered. Now, in dialogue with my therapist, I see the man as an extra child in the relationship. Could this be what is happening here?

TheCakes Tue 13-Dec-16 12:09:22

It's crossed my mind.
His behaviour is up and down, depending on his motivations.
I also need to shield DS2 a bit - I don't just mean sibling rivalry, but DS1 doesn't really recognise that there is a 4 year age gap.
They spend EOW with their dad. He's alright, consistent, fun, but doesn't put them first. They don't have any contact in between visits.

TheCakes Tue 13-Dec-16 12:10:19

In what way Pseudo?

pseudonymity Tue 13-Dec-16 12:14:45

An extra child? In my case it was a combination of his childish behaviour - not being able to regulate his responses and actions - and my mother's treatment of him - making excuses for him was an example.

Toohardtofindaproperusername Tue 13-Dec-16 12:23:36

How old are children, when did your "dh" ( purposefully put that way), come into your (and their) lives - how long have you been together? Did he want children of his own, did or doe he have children in his life in other ways? I guess I'm wondering if your husband didn't really know what being a sf would be like. He can't choose to be in and out spending on the weather... This is helping no one. I think you have to make a decision, for yourself, about what is important. If u keep telling him he needs to step up,Cnut there are no consequences, it's like cry wolf. You need to sit down with him and have a serous conversation about whether he is up for this. And I agree with what others said- whatever you say to "excuse" his behaviour doesn't help anyone, nor your relationship with your family or children - it might make things seem even more confusing (I've doubting of themselves and you). He can't change whiles ds is "acting up"? Again, as other posters suggested - time to clarify who exactly is the child.
Sorry you are in such a crap situation but sounds like you are getting clearer - window of opportunity for kids is small.... I'd say you need to sort things quick if they are getting into teenage years. And a role model for your other son? I'd be questioning that tbh by the sounds of his behaviour.

TheCakes Tue 13-Dec-16 12:37:17

Boys are 14 and 10, split with their dad when they were four and about 5 weeks. Very tough few years with their dad coming in and out, met DH when they were 7 & 3.
He gave us stability for the first few years but we don't feel stable any more. We feel just as broken as we ever were.
But what do I do? Think if they can't see eye to eye it's time to call it a day? Not sure I can cope on my own, either.
Oh god, I am in a right mess, aren't I?

TheCakes Tue 13-Dec-16 12:40:29

He went for counselling once, but the counsellor just kept asking why he didn't just leave.
He said he loves me and DS2 too much to do that, so didn't go back.

Lunar1 Tue 13-Dec-16 12:41:56

Your son has very little time with you if he's with your mum in the week, your ex two weekends a month and is only with you for two weekends. So for basically 4 nights a month when your child is home your dh can't cope?

MsGameandWatch Tue 13-Dec-16 12:42:36

So your child is away from home during the week and also every other weekend and your husband still cannot tolerate spending time in his company even for those short periods of time?

He would be long gone if he was my husband OP, on the end of my boot (figuratively obviously) I have two children with autism amongst other additional needs by the way so understand how difficult it can be.

Underthemoonlight Tue 13-Dec-16 12:52:15

I agree with others your DS isn't even around that often and your dh struggles to cope. Your last comment was very telling in that he doesn't want to leave because he loves you and ds2 no meantion of your eldest son which is appaulling in itself. It's clear to see he is extremely resentful of your eldest son and is happy when he isn't there. If you have anything about you I would take this opportunity to leave and move closer to your ds1 school and be more active in his life show him you love and care for him.

TheCakes Tue 13-Dec-16 12:56:48

DS1 has 'ASD traits' and possibly (probably) PDA and DS2 gets assessed for ASD next month.
School are at their wits end with him too. I'd rather not go into all the stuff he's done, because I don't like to badmouth him, but it's quite unbelievable, really. Lying and stealing are examples.

He comes home one night midweek too, so really it's eight nights a month, but I get your point. They couldn't even manage one day, for my birthday.
I'm dreading Christmas.

Toohardtofindaproperusername Tue 13-Dec-16 13:18:08

*He went for counselling once, but the counsellor just kept asking why he didn't just leave.
He said he loves me and DS2 too much to do that, so didn't go back.*

But you have two sons.

Have you thought about family therapy? Therapy isn't the answer to everything but sometimes can help shift things or shed light on things, at the moment your ds1 seems estranged physically and emotionally, which I'm sure doesn't help him. Your dh seems child like in his understanding of parental roles.

Have you talked about Xmas and what is helpful and possible to do? Your dh is the grown up (keep reminding yourself).

TheCakes Tue 13-Dec-16 13:27:47

We started family therapy but it was strange and disjointed so we stopped going.

It's hard to separate normal teen stuff from the bigger issues sometimes. At the moment, DS1 can't go out when he's home, so I'll suggest we all have a game of Monopoly or something. DH will be quite up for that, then DS1 will say he doesn't want to do that, because it's rubbish (everything's rubbish, boring etc)

Toohardtofindaproperusername Tue 13-Dec-16 14:35:37

Yep family therapy can feel/be "strange" .. But how long did you give it and did you talk about that in therapy?
And smile to the "everything's Rubbish" - sounds very much like every /most teenagers. What does it mean "he can't go out when home? ". Can't go out alone, can't go out at all - why not? Whose decision? How is he at his grandmas and can see help with Xmas plans. Teenagers aren't the easiest to please, so a game that's interesting to them is better than a game adults grew up with. How about getting him joined up to the idea of choosing a game? Has your husband ever had /dedicated much 1--1 time getting close to bad trying to understand your son(1)? What are his interests? Maybe you trying too hard with games and they just want to hang out alone on Xmas day (they want you downstairs as safely 'being there ', but then need to 'reject you' by disappearing to their room type of thing).
Lying stealing etc can be as sign of distress.cnot saying go easy on him but it sounds like he could easily be feeling massively rejected atm.
Do u n. Dh talk? What does he think is the way forward to support the family and support both children?

TheCakes Tue 13-Dec-16 15:20:49

He can't go out alone as we can't trust him to be where he says he is, hanging out with decent people and staying out of trouble.
There have been some incidents lately that have really, really concerned me.
He's OK at my mum's. Gives her attitude but she lives in a small village where there isn't really much trouble he can get into.
He just watches telly with her and is generally quite kind to her.
He's quite obsessive with his interests. He lives and dies to skate. That is all he cares about, but there are worse things he could obsess over. Some of his interests aren't all that healthy hmm
Part of the problem is DH and him have nothing in common. I wish they'd do something together.
I'm hoping in the next year they will decorate his room. They are both fairly practical, but honestly, he has it in such a state I'm loathed to spend the money just at the moment (again, fairly teenage I think).
I've hugely outed myself here, but oh well...

pseudonymity Tue 13-Dec-16 15:23:04

I hope this isn't unhelpful, but a lot of this is resonating with my own experience as a child in a similar situation. E.g. "DH will be quite up for that" (re. games). That sounds again like he's the child in the situation. Does he ever initiate such things himself? With "that's rubbish/boring" etc. from the teen it sounds like it's a very tense situation. Sometimes it is the teen role to channel those emotions - bring them right into view.

Toohardtofindaproperusername Tue 13-Dec-16 15:49:12

Go somewhere he can skate on Xmas day , or support him to do some skating somewhere,
If that's a huge interest, as a sp you would imagine that's the "way in" as I were. Not by going overboard but by showing some curiosity or interest. Honestly, you are defending your dh here by suggesting they don't do things together because they don't share interests. It's not their duty to share interests, but as a sp you have a role in being at least interested in the interests of you'd dss!
Have the incidents involved risk and if so, do talk to son or others about it.
Interests not healthy? You could talk to him and help him to learn/understand if it's stuff like drugs or anti women or whatever.
And it sounds nice that he's kind to your mum...!m
And I don't think you're outing youself
But - I think excusing your husband is a problem.

Ps. Hope bio father is around to share/discuss things with.

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