Desperate Step Dad(24 Posts)
I don't even know where to start...
I'm reaching out for advice on a topic I feel is something when all is said and done..I will lose my wife. We argue about this constantly and aside from this topic we have a very strong relationship that we both work at to make it as strong as possible. She has a problem with me, she tells me, I address it, and vice versa. But as you know...a stepchild/adult is a slippery slope when you're the step parent. It remains our one source of tension. We have not spoke in 2 days because of the latest argument.
1. Step child is 20
2. He lost his father to disease 6 years ago
3. Step child has gained a mass amount of weight since (he's currently 400lbs) he actually wheezes when he walks.
4. He is self admitted lazy
5. Both mother and inlaws are enablers
6. Step child was diagnosed with same disease father had over a year ago...does not take care of his health which is needed to control it.
Ok...examples...and I feel these are needed so you get the whole scope of what I deal with daily.
---------THE WEIGHT/EATING ---------
Just the other day he made himself and pizza and 26 mozzarella sticks. When he makes mac and cheese he makes 2 FAMILY SIZE boxes. He drinks a gallon of milk within an hour of us bringing groceries home.
So far he has broken his desk chair, our couch, and just today...my recliner due to his weight. He likes to say, "cheap furniture" as the excuse.
We stop buying fattening stuff and if we order out..."i" do the ordering so he doesn't add anything to the order.
My wife stopped buying fatty foods for awhile but then caved. She's not as strong willed as me, she feels bad, etc. I continue to do the ordering when we order out.
She has spoke to him about how his eating is him "eating his pain". He's a very smart kid so while he understands...he still continues to over eat and is slowing killing himself. It is really hard to watch, hard to hear him wheeze. He is only 20 years old!
He currently works 16 hours a week.
My wife works 32 hours a week.
I work 80 hours a week.
He has one responsibility around the house...mow/weedeat the yard (30minute job). It takes about 4 days of asking to get it done. It's always "I'll do it tomorrow...". And when it is finally done..its just mowing. He never weedeats. Our yard has gone to crap and I refuse to do it for him. I do it for him once...he'll never do it again. So how does the weedeating get done...my father in law...my father in law that has had 4 heart attacks. Yep..my step son would rather watch his grandfather do it than do it himself.
He lost his job earlier this year and my in laws decided it would be a good idea to pay him to do odd jobs for them a few hours a week to make money while he found a new job. I had to bring it to everyone's attention that by doing this... the were eliminating the URGENCY to get a job. They were literally paying him $400 a month...his bills are only $200. So..he really had no need to find a job so he took months off working for them 1-2 hours a week and laying around the rest of the time. Of course I was the family ---hole for mentioing this.
He is currently back at work but its ending any week now (seasonal job). He says he's been looking but when my in laws have to drive a 20 year old to fill out an application to make sure he does... I know he's lying about looking.
The examples above are just the tip of the iceberg. My wife and I both know he needs councling but last time she brought it up she was driving and he grabbed the wheel and tried to stear the car into a parked car.
So...what do I do?
Just keep my mouth shut watch him self destruct? I have a hard time doing that. I feel helpless and frustrated.
My fear is the tension between my wife and I is going to tear us apart. I also fear he is going to drop dead from the weight issue mixed with his disease and she is going to take it out on me. I honestly feel I am doomed to lose this woman I love dearly no matter what happens.
Any advice is welcome and if anything thank you for taking the time to read this.
He very likely has underlying emotional issues possibly regarding the loss of his dad. It must be hard watching someone self destruct and another seemingly enabling it.
Are you able to talk to your dss? Can you talk to him about how he feels and not bring his weight into it?
Hi OP, didn't want to read and run.
From everything you've said, this jumped out the most to me * she was driving and he grabbed the wheel and tried to stear the car into a parked car*
What's that about??
Ultimately he's 20 years old, he's not a child and from what you've said it does seem they are enabling his behaviour and unhealthy lifestyle.
Also, FOUR HUNDRED POUNDS a month??
I don't really know what to suggest
It sounds like a horrible situation, not least for your DSS
You need to have the hard conversation with your wife ...
He sounds as though he has emotional issues, and I don't think you'll be able to resolve these without professional help (disclaimer: I'm in consulting and have exactly zero medical training - this is purely how it reads to me).
Having said that, you need to back off! Speaking as someone who 'acquired' a step-parent in my late teens, my step dad was never going to be someone I was going to let parent me. In fact, I resented his every attempt to. Part of this may have been my own grief over losing my actual father (he's not dead, merely batshit insane and incapable of having normal human relationships) and another part was arguably that I expected a person who met me as a nearly-adult (who thought of herself as fully grown up, as most older teens will) not to treat me like a child!
Is there any way that you can attempt to relate to him in more of an older friend/mentor capacity than as an ersatz parent?
Sorry, OP, this sounds incredibly tough!
Really really tough situation. Made much more emotional because of the loss of his Dad.
Why is it the hardest step parenting situations are when the parent has indulged or lost parenting? If his mum had it in hand there would be way less of an issue.
He’s not maturing well, he’s got big issues with weight, and steering the car? That’s abusive, aggressive, scary.
I would be thinking of moving out. Seriously.
bossy I don’t think you can back off. It’s the end really when that happens. Ghost in your own house, appeasing a child adult who resents your very presence.
Lettuce, I don't mean 'back off' in the sense that OP shouldn't stand up for his own interests, but in the sense that he mustn't be trying to parent an adult. It's only going to exacerbate any resentment.
I do see sense in what you are saying, bossy but in my experience, after a few years, OP has to be in a position where he can parent to an extent, never as much as the actual parent, but they are not equals, or mates. It’s his home too, his finances, him that has to pay for broken furniture, clean and repair the house, pay bills for his step son.
These are all parental roles, these are all caring tasks. It sets up a demeaning and unworkable dynamic if the step parent has to do all these things but has to keep quiet and act as if he’s an equal. Until the boy becomes independent he has to accept this.
I agree that in reality he probably won’t, but it will be very difficult for the OP to stay, one of them will have to go, intolerable otherwise.
Sad situation. The boy probably does desperately need help. If only he’d accept that being offered by the OP.
I have had many sincere conversations which all turn south once she feels I am attacking him. Which I am not...I am just stating the facts in a non agressive way. But she does not want to hear it, gets defensive, and then it gets ugly on her end.
I agree with bossy, the time has passed now to parent as a 'parent', ie. disciplining, telling them what to do etc...
This young adult is clearly in a very bad position emotionally and most likely lost, scared, and depressed. His attitude might be one that comes out as lazy, aggressive, dismissive etc... but those are symptoms of the problems, not the problem itself.
I understand how is mum is feeling because although his behaviour is clearly not acceptable, tough love could just tip him over the edge if what he feels he needs more than anything is support, but most likely has stopped believing that this support can come from her in the way that would help him let alone OP.
It is a very very sad state of affairs, but unfortunately, unless he finds it in himself to pull himself up and make decisions to do something, however small to start with, to get himself out of the vicious circle, there is little than can be done. The only way is trying to listen to him (very hard to do when instinct wants to tell him to get off his bum), and a lot of patience, accepting that talking is not going to make him someone determined the following day, but anything that can help him raise his confidence and self-esteem is the only way forward.
However hard it must be for you to feel helpless in this situation, do remember that it will be much worse for your wife.
I have tried many angles in my role as a step parent. Firm, lax, buddy, etc. Nothing is working. Nothing works when you live with a step child that only puts in enough effort to get what they need out of a situation. Nice when they need something, etc. He will promise you the world to get what he wants... That is actions of child, not an adult.
I do not give him what he asks for until the promised task I have requested is completed. Once he realizes that's the case...he passes on what he wants because basically...he doesn't want to do anything for a person in return. Example...one day he needed walking around money because a friend wanted to hang out. I said, "I'll give you $20 to weedeat before you leave". His response, "nah, I'll just ask my friend to pay for me".
And I agree with the statement that if I am an ok enough guy to pay all the bills...especially the internet and cable you lay around and use 20 hours a day...then I should be respected enough that you listen and do what I ask. I guess my parenting skills are only good enough when it comes to bill paying?
Also... while everyone that enables him thinks I'm a dictator... I don't see it that way. I am trying to teach a 20 year old basic skills that are needed to be an adult.
You make a mess of the kitchen....you clean it up. You don't it leave it for your mom that has worked all day when you only worked 3 hours. You lift a toilet seat to piss... you don't piss all over the seat so the next person sits in it. Someone takes you out to eat...you don't order the most expensive things on the menu because you're not paying. Basically things most of us learned when we were 5.
Manners. respect. Responsibility.
I'm really to the point I think I don't think anyone wants him to grow up.
Has your wife accepted that there is a problem? (And the next question is does she recognise the cause?). Maybe that is where to start? Can she commit to one small thing - with the support of the rest of the family?
All your points in your last post would be fine about a regular kid and one you fathered all his life. But you are ignoring the fact that he is not regular , it is not a regular situation and you are not his father.
There is a huge emotional attachment between him and his dm that you are failing to see. They have gone through death together. You are treating this like an outsider...My ds went off the rails a bit at 18 to 20..not overweight but lots of stuff out of order. My huge emotional attachment to him since birth allowed me to stick with jim through thick and thin but also blinded me from taking a tough enough line. Eventually he had to see sense himself and to be honest it was love..not spoiling that saw him through.
You need to step right back. His dm will feel such a defence of him rising up in her belly that she cant be logical here.
He needs counselling in a big way but up to him and his dm to sort that.
That goes back to my original post/question...
Do I just step back, watch him self destruct and let those two deal with it?
I can tell you for a fact...they are not dealing with it. She just "hopes" he snaps out of it (her words) meanwhile... he's deteriorating physically and at a rapid pace.
And yes, she has accepted there is a huge problem...
The being scared of growing ip/responsibility
The fact he has flat out told her he does not like her.
He has told us flat out...he doesn't have a problem with me. It's her he doesn't like. I saved those texts messages. They were heart breaking. Hr has zero respect for her. But...he was raised like they were buddies, not mom/son.
But...I guess he likes us well enough to have a roof over his head and all the ulities paid. Because if I didn't like the person I was living with as much as he says he doesn't like her...I would work my ass off and get out. That's too much energy for him. It means he would have to get a big boy job.
There are so many issues its almost over whelming.
She will even say that there's just too much at once to handle with him as far as issues go. And that he doesn't even know where to start it spirialed so out of control. When you're a lazy person and you look at yourself and realize "this is going to take years to lose all this weight"... he's not a person that can be motivated to take out the garabage cans... How is he going to tackle years of working out. He's not. And as her and I discussed the other day...its probably going to come down to a health scare. But even then...I don't know if that's enough to motivate him to get healthy. He is just a lazy person. Always has been. And that is not me being rude. He will tell you... he is flat out lazy.
I still believe if he loses some weight he will feel better about himself.
He doesn’t want to deal with things the way you want him to, your wife doesn’t want to deal with issues the way you want her to. You cannot make anyone see something from your perspective. Take a big step back..underneath all his issues are probably grief, his dad died he may not have dealt with it he may not be ready.
Step back from this situation you cannot control it and the more you push the more resistance you will feel. If you care about him then care anyway without trying to resolve a situation neither he or his Mum are ready to deal with. It’s frustrating but no one can hear you from where you are standing.
That is probably the best advice.
Reading all the responses has been very helpful and typing all this out has really made me see the bigger picture for myself.
I see this playing out one of 3 ways...
1. The arguing between her and I slowiy tearing us apart.
2. Waiting on those two to go to some sort of grief counseling. But...while she has admitted she needs it she also says "what are they going to do?" And he obviously needs it...with all the life insuance money and while she has insurance through me... Neither of them has ever sought out counselling. They both seem to think it will all fix itself. So if I'm waiting for them to go...I'll be waiting an eternity.
3. My step son collapses from a heart attack or from the disease he has and she becomes a hundred times more messed up because of that grief on top of the grief she already has.
All options point to one fate for our marriage.
I actually plan on looking into a counselor for myself when I get home from work today.
I decided it would be best if I myself went to see a counselor to discuss why all the things i mentioned above are not only frustrating me but if there is a better way to process these things in a positive manner.
I figure my step kid isn't going to change and my wife isn't going to stop being so protective and enabling so this might be the healthiest route for my mental state.
I shared this decision with my wife this morning and that started 3 hours of her calling me names, saying I was creating drama, dredging up the past, how her son is the victim here, etc.
I kind of thought I was doing the right thing with this decision. Its a little odd being lectured and yelled at for suggesting a solution to help the house/family as a whole. I mean if her argument is "I'm" the problem.... Kind of an odd time to tell me that after I just told her I was the one going to go talk to someone. I was just treated like I told her they need to go see a shrink. Odd.
I'm not qualified in the slightest but it seems they are both in denial. The arguing is therefore likely just a cover - probably has no real meaning. It might be good for you. Do you think your wife would join you on the first session? That way she won't think that you're setting up her or DSS as the victim; but see you laying down the issues and (hopefully) giving her the chanceto focus on acceptance (of it and the consequences) and then a plan for change.
Nothing is going to change unless they do and I can't see that happening at all sorry
I am getting from your posts that the issue here is a matter of control. You come across as a person who need to be in control and take actions -not a criticism, I'm the same- The problem is that people like you can be overwhelming and even though every we do is meant well, we can put people under pressure, make them feel guilty for not doing the things we tell them to do and that they know we would do if we were them, and in the end make them feel even worse about themselves then they were before we got involved.
I'm wondering if as a result, you could actually be contributing to the problem rather than helping because your SS has ended feeling like a complete failure under your constant stare, willing him on to do something about his situation, and you're not listening to your wife who is trying to tell you that although you are right in theory, in practice, your persistence is actually making things worse and you would be best backing away.
What is hard is that it is clear you are doing what you are doing because you really care, so it is hurting you to see nothing happening.
I think counselling is an excellent option for you. Maybe it might be case of learning that doing less is actually doing better, although it might a long time of doing less before you start to see any positive outcome, if it's not too late.
I guess my parenting skills are only good enough when it comes to bill paying? I think a lot of step parents would totally sympathize.
He’s acting like a child. He’s not independent. You are not a hotel. Of course it’s ok to expect civil, respectful behaviour and cooperation from him. And yes, it’s your and your partner’s house. You should both be in control! When the boy grows up he can be in control of his own house.
If you’ve tried all angles, compassionate, friendly, sensitive. Worth trying!
But if you have. Then I think you move out or he moves out.
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