Feeling like I'm not doing so well(17 Posts)
I have a 15 year old. Nearly 16 in fact. He is not 'mine', he is DH's nephew who came to live with us nearly 4 years ago. I have straightened him out and he is doing really well but he is just so arrogant and negative around the house and I hate the way he speaks to our DS (4). Calling him a loser, gay etc. constantly teasing him, saying obnoxious things to me and just being generally a pain. I try to answer in a calm, even way, providing information (always rejected), questioning his attitude mildly, then I get more angry (for example when he swears in front of DS). I have been quite strict but I can't seem to do much about this phase. He constantly criticises my parenting of DS (he has no boundaries, he does what he likes, etc.) even though I have told him nicely that I'm taking care of it. DH is upstairs working and has little to do with it. Feeling quite down about things. I don't know what anyone can tell me to do, but I wouldn't mind talking it over.
I don't know what I can tell you to do either but I can offer sympathy - I have a 14 year-old ds, generally a nice boy and compared to some of the stories I have read on here no trouble at all but yet I still often feel an inadequate parent and he can drive me mad with his attitude.
To take on someone else's child is a fantastic thing to do and sounds as if you have managed very well. Why did he come to live with you? If I'm reading it right it sounds as if your dh is ducking the issue and you could do with his help in showing dn a good role model.
His attitude towards your ds sounds like jealousy - calling a little child such names is really inexcusable - and also mixed up since he is demonstrating a terrible example to him and then criticising your parenting.
Thanks Dave, I feel torn between telling him what I think of his behaviour and not wanting to damage his self-esteem. I sometimes get it very wrong. I start out every evening trying to make things really positive and fun. This evening we put the tree up but it was just snippy comment after snippy comment, telling DS to shut up, telling me I spoil him, then telling DS his teeth will fall out because he doesn't brush them. I brush DS teeth twice a day. He just sneers all the time and I'm so tired of it.
Just a quick observation, he sounds as though he is very jealous of your 4 year old. Probably quite unjustified and irrational. I battled with my eldest with this for many years who was massively unimpressed with her twin siblings. Not sure I ever really solved it, although at 20 she has almost outgrown it! Hopefully someone will come along with some helpful suggestions.
It sounds like jealousy to me too, on top of the fact that teenagers this age can speak in really awful ways to the people around them.
My DS1 has always been hugely jealous of DS2, probably because he has his dad in his life, and DS1 doesn't. It's a horrible feeling that seems to underpin their whole relationship... But in those middle teen years, I think it gets harder to handle, because their jealousy is in direct conflict with their drive to be more independent: on the one hand, they want more time with you; on the other, they want less! I think it leaves them with a nasty, confusing cocktail of emotions that makes them nastier to those around them.
Does your DN get to spend much 'quality time' alone with you? If not, I'd try to make it happen... Though he may refuse. It's a sad and tricky truth that some unhappy teenagers resist exactly the things that would make them feel better...
Well, the jealousy thing is difficult. He lost both his parents before he was 1, so I think to see the relationship I have with DS must raise some issues for him. He has always been loved though (brought up by my MIL).
He doesn't get much time with just me, although I am always home when he gets in from school to talk to him etc. Often it is a pretty unpleasant exchange - he brags and boasts about how clever he is, how well he's doing, how he's much more intelligent than me. To all this I try to give good-humoured responses but he also incredibly insensitive, so if I ever imply that's not the case, for example pointing out he can't know everything about countries he's never visited etc. he gets really angry and says something downright out of order, at which point I say if he can't stop himself from saying things of that type then he should go and spend a bit of time on his own. I particularly dislike him being so disrespectful to me in front of DS. But DS is his favourite means of getting at me, winding him up until he's shouting etc. and then swearing and blaming DS for hitting him or whatever. DS repeats the swearword and then of course I am really cross.
Our relationship is more like a stepparent though. He was 13 when he came to us, so it is not like I will ever be his mother although I am more than willing to do my best (as of course, I would want someone to do for DS, if I wasn't around). I have had to be quite strict with him, amid much laxness from the other parties involved, yet he chooses to criticise my parenting of DS as too lax. No four year old is that noisy and you're not even going to tell him off!! etc.
So much is right (complete turnaround at school, greater social skills, happy with a good group of friends, teachers love him) and yet so much is wrong
Sorry I meant to say he is incredibly sensitive not insensitive.
Well I would certainly say a lot more is right than wrong - to have a good group of friends and the respect of teachers is a fantastic grounding for making the transition to adulthood. I think many parents would wish to be able to say the same! If a lot of that is down to you then you can be proud of yourself and keep that little flame of pride alight inside even when he's getting at you. He clearly knows the right way to behave and his choosing to vent all his nastiness at in the 'safe' environment of home.
Unfortunately in taking on the role of the really responsible adult in his life you have drawn the short straw of being the person he has to kick against in order to prove his independence and that can be really unpleasant.
It is really sad that he is directing so much jealousy at your little ds but also I suppose pretty understandable. Even if you have never really known your parents, and even if you have had a loving upbringing with someone else there's no doubt that that loss will colour your whole life. Our society places a huge (and often hugely unrealistic) emphasis on the 'normal' family of Mum, Dad and Kids so I'm sure his realisation that he doesn't fit that mould must have had a deep effect.
Thanks so much for your posts. Today was better. I really focused while he was talking to me and pledged not to rise to the bait. We survived a political debate and decorated the tree
Did you tell him that ? " It was great to have that informed political discussion with you today. It was good to have a proper conversation. And thanks for helping with the tree ".
My ds 2 is 15 and has always been incredibly kind and loving... Since his 15th birthday he has become, at times, sarcastic , mean to younger DD and generally insensitive and unpleasant.
I have already lived through this with DS 1. I think a lot of it comes down to hormones. I see your DS' history is a bit more complicated but it seems he is doing well at school and has a loving caring home life. IMO teenage boys are just like this. Try not to take it too personally, the good news is they grow out of it.
OP I have no advice, but just wanted to say you are doing great - I remember your story of old - you have willingly taken on a difficult child and given him a home, love, boundaries and security, and IIRC you also have a BIL with some issues to support too.
The fact that you are seeking advice shows how much you love your DN and are committed to him - but like someone else said, they always push hardest against the one they love the most / know loves them the most, as they need to show their growing independence, but need to know that they will still be loved in spite of their behaviour. He would not do it to someone whose love he was less certain of.
Thanks guys (especially Feis, how nice to have someone remember me!). I wish I could reach out to him more but I can't, maybe due more to my own inadequacies. I'm sure when inevitably DS reaches that stage I will still be able to grab him for a hug, or whatever, but with DN it has been aggro from the start. He is fine, but as for me all I can say is thank god for DS because without him and wine...
I remember saying to you last year, and I'll say again now, I think you are too hard on yourself. If (when) teenagers are horrible to you, it is perfectly normal to feel hurt, angry and even disgusted. I had several years when I didn't like DS1 much, and one or two where I worried that I didn't love him any more and might never love him again, because I was so hurt, angry and disgusted. So maternal love doesn't prevent those negative feelings, though it does give you a history and memories of cute loveliness that keep you going through much darker times. You haven't got that, and yet you are still hanging on in there, supporting and caring for this boy, even when you don't like him much. I think you should give yourself credit for that.
Thanks Flow in many way things are going much better than we could ever have hoped. School and friendship group all great. Now I am trying to keep focused on my responses when we are talking so that conversations are less likely to go awry. He is getting a gym membership for his birthday which he is really excited about so I'm really hoping that this will be a channel for his energies and make the house dynamic much better. I know it really helped me when I lived with my parents.
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