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My stepson makes our lives hard.
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Strugglingstepparent · 30/05/2022 20:46

Hi I have 3 step children all live with us permanently. We’ve lived together for 5 years. The 13 year old is a nightmare to live with started getting worse about 2 years ago. he constantly disrespects me he point blank tells me and his dad he hates us (no anger,hatred or being upset). He lies all the time try’s to get everyone else in trouble. He hurts the others and thinks it’s hilarious but will always try and blame them. He’s manipulative and sneaky. We’ve been to counselling but their techniques seem to make him think he can get away with everything. I’m struggling and don’t know how to handle him anymore. I’m not a shouty person but I’m starting to loose myself and feel myself wanting to scream. We’ve tried grounding, taking things away, talking the issues through but nothing phases him. Any advice?

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Notmyzoonotmymonkeys · 30/05/2022 23:40

@Strugglingstepparent
So sorry your having a tough time off it, do make him aware that with all the lying that when he's really telling the truth no one will believe him, you will get people along saying awww poor ss don't listen to them, he's old enough to know what he's doing and be punished for it what ever it may be. He's trying to push boundaries to see how far he can go try and knock it n the head ASAP or it will get out off control.

As he lives with you, you can set rules of what u expect especially from a 13 year old he's a teenager now not a child, if he wants to act like a child treat him like one. I wish u all the best and hope things work out for you.

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Kanaloa · 30/05/2022 23:54

What techniques are the counsellors suggesting that don’t work? Why does he live with you full time - is there regular contact between him and mum? Is it a chaotic/upsetting or traumatic relationship? All these things are relevant and important. It may be that he’s naughty and needs coming down on, but it may also be that he needs help and should be going on with counselling/getting good professional help.

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Kanaloa · 30/05/2022 23:56

Also, could you expand on some of his behaviours? What is he doing that’s ‘manipulative and sneaky?’ How is he hurting his siblings/in what situation is this happening? When and how does he disrespect you?

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Strugglingstepparent · 31/05/2022 00:53

He hasn’t had contact with his mum for 6 years she left for someone else. We thought that was why the issues may have started. His siblings are all settled and normal as in can be pains but really loving and caring. We we’re told to use a tool called PACE and to give him lighter punishments like take his computer for an hour rather than a day. If he ends up in trouble he always winds his brothers up to try get them in trouble.
He quite small for his age and looks younger when he’s with certain adults he’ll put this younger sweet voice on like with his grandparents (who get him anything he wants). Example with them;- he lost a game and started really hitting his younger brother but it was his brother who got punished as they think he’s the nice quiet 1.
He’ll do things to get people in trouble such as I’ve actually watched him pour paint on the floor and he was still adamant it was his brother even though I stood and watched. He will still write on walls and try blame them even though it’s clearly his handwriting. He hits kicks will use anything he knows will hurt. Usually does this if he hasn’t got his own way or something he wanted. If he can’t have something of there’s he’ll break it. The list is endless.
When we ask him to do something like tidy his room he just flat out refuses sits there smirking saying you can’t make me and you can’t do anything about it.
He’s told us that he wouldn’t care if he never saw any of us again and I genuinely believe him. He shows no feelings what so ever. Unless his computers taken away which were strict on anyway they’re only allowed them on certain days.

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Aquamarine1029 · 31/05/2022 01:00

How much of this are you willing to take?

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Strugglingstepparent · 31/05/2022 01:04

I feel like I’m very close to the edge. It’s awful though because the rest of our family unit is great. I think that’s why I’ve come on here looking for help I wouldn’t normally do this kind of thing but it’s seriously getting to breaking point. I’ve started getting anxiety dreading each day and battle. The whole family is suffering.

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Aquamarine1029 · 31/05/2022 01:09

Strugglingstepparent · 31/05/2022 01:04

I feel like I’m very close to the edge. It’s awful though because the rest of our family unit is great. I think that’s why I’ve come on here looking for help I wouldn’t normally do this kind of thing but it’s seriously getting to breaking point. I’ve started getting anxiety dreading each day and battle. The whole family is suffering.

You don't have to live this way, op. This child is not your child, and your ability to do anything in regards to his behaviour is essentially non-existent.

Are you married to his father? There is no shame is deciding you just can't live like this anymore.

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DeeCeeCherry · 31/05/2022 01:34

Just read your last update

Sorry - Id be gone. He's a danger to his siblings and you dont say what his Dad is stepping up to do.

I wouldn't live like that for anyone. Women are expected to be selfless far too often. Your anxiety must be through the roof.

Maybe when you end the relationship his Dad will actually do something.
Your Counsellor sounds shit by the way.

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upnorthsomewhere · 31/05/2022 01:45

Are yous very strict, you mentioned computers are only allowed on certain days. Do you let him make decisions for himself. My family were very strict and I lashed out all too often looking back on it though most rules were pointless and I never got to make any decisions for myself as a teen. I eventually did just do what I wanted and took my own freedom. I didn't turn out too much of a disaster in the end!

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MrsTerryPratchett · 31/05/2022 01:52

My heart absolutely breaks for him. Being left by your mum is utterly dreadful. It's no wonder he's very damaged.

Having said that he sounds really troubled and you don't actually have to be there. Unfortunately that will compound both his feelings of power and of loss. Which is bad for the family but can't be helped. You're making yourself miserable and it's getting worse.

Could you be separate but together?

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Rainbowqueeen · 31/05/2022 01:57

Can I just say it may just be him being a teen. I have a teen who is very similar and her dad and I are still together. It is incredibly tough though, no doubt about that.

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GeorgiaGirl52 · 31/05/2022 01:59

Have you considered boarding school? Then he could be rebellious against someone else.

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WhatDoIDoNow3 · 31/05/2022 02:14

Rainbowqueeen · 31/05/2022 01:57

Can I just say it may just be him being a teen. I have a teen who is very similar and her dad and I are still together. It is incredibly tough though, no doubt about that.

The type of behaviours he is presenting such as writing on walls is very childish and shows a developmental issue along with manipulative behaviours. I think the only option for OP and her husband is to get very strict and potentially send him to boarding school for a term or something, show him if he continues to behave like that then he will have to have intervention away from the family unit.

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Kanaloa · 31/05/2022 09:13

GeorgiaGirl52 · 31/05/2022 01:59

Have you considered boarding school? Then he could be rebellious against someone else.

This is a horrible idea. Boarding schools aren’t dumping grounds for traumatised kids.

I would look at getting him back into counselling asap. I mean his mum left him, then a year later you moved in. I imagine there are serious issues for him around that. Imagine if it was a foster child who had been abandoned by his parent - you wouldn’t be surprised to see these bad behaviours, right? It sounds like he needs help.

Are you guys very strict? Maybe his dad could work out some kind of system with the son. How often are they allowed to use the computer? If I was the dad I would sit him down and say he can use his computer daily. However, if he is mean to his siblings or refuses to do what he’s asked then he can’t use it that day. It seems like at the minute he’s got relatively little to lose.

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Strugglingstepparent · 31/05/2022 09:41

We’re not strict we do a lot of outdoor activities as well. They’re allowed computers 4 days a week his behaviour gets worse when he has them.
Hes still in counselling but his therapist sees us more than him.

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SpaceshiptoMars · 31/05/2022 09:43

@MrsTerryPratchett

I think you have worked with troubled teens? Is there any specialist help for a lad going down this bullying track? Any way you know of introducing him to the idea that other people have feelings too?

13 yr old boys tend to think they've outgrown petticoat government. Dad needs to really step up and set firm boundaries. I'd be making myself scarcer!

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Kanaloa · 31/05/2022 09:43

Can you and your husband possibly divide and conquer? Your husband could pour a lot of energy into the son, trying to heal what’s gone wrong there and fix these behaviours? Perhaps one on one he will find him easier to crack? And maybe the therapist could start seeing the son more often.

I know these behaviours must be so difficult but you must see there’s an obvious trauma there? Mum leaves, dad moves another woman in a year later?

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Strugglingstepparent · 31/05/2022 09:43

No we’re not really strict obviously there’s always expected behaviour and routine. I was a foster child but everyone is different.
He’s always been like this but before it was controllable with a punishment now he just doesn’t care.

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Strugglingstepparent · 31/05/2022 09:47

His mum left 2 years before I moved in. The last time he saw her was a year before but he’d only seen her 3 times in the year after she left.
Therapy is hard to get there’s still a back log from covid. We’ve tried to get a different one but no luck.

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Strugglingstepparent · 31/05/2022 09:48

Dad works away week days.

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Kanaloa · 31/05/2022 09:49

But surely you can still see that’s a huge trauma for a child? Abandonment by the mother? I was a foster child too and this type of behaviour was par for the course because we were all basically traumatised. Like I said, maybe if his dad tried to intensively handle this one on one it would help? Spending plenty of time one on one, maybe talking to him and implementing rewards rather than punishment so he has something to work for in a positive sense.

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Kanaloa · 31/05/2022 09:51

Dad works away week days? So mum left, and dad is not present for the majority of the time? I mean this isn’t sounding great, I’d have included that in the op because it’s obviously relevant. If I was the dad I’d be looking for full time work locally so I could parent my child who is obviously making some sort of plea for attention, and support my wife.

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Newestname002 · 31/05/2022 10:03

Strugglingstepparent · 31/05/2022 09:48

Dad works away week days.

This is surely not helping OP. Though I don't think the destructive behaviour can be condoned, this child must feel abandoned by both his parents. You are left in loco parentis with children who are not yours to manage as best as you can for the majority in f the time. This must be so tough for you too.

Can his father find a different job where he is able to be home for the majority of the time and provide proper physical and mental support for you and to all his children? If he doesn't wish to for whatever reason, perhaps it's time for you to consider your own mental health and back away from a situation which is causing you such anxiety. What would your DH/DP do if you moved out or were no longer able to support him in the ways you've currently done? 🌹

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itsgettingweird · 31/05/2022 10:05

I hate the attitude some posters reply with - you're the step mum so just leave.

I don't believe any step parent should walk because a child's behaviour gets bad.

Leave because the relationship isn't working if that's the case.

But back to the DSS.

You say he's always been like this. Even before his mum walked away from him?

Only some of his behaviours lean towards him being neurodiverse (lack of empathy and being able to take responsibility for his actions).

I'm wondering if assessment rather than counselling is the way to go? I know people who have sought private therapy and they aren't always qualified as you would get with a clinical psychologist for example.

What's he like at school?

There's so much to unpick here. Mainly the route cause of the behaviour. Because if treating for trauma and it's not that it won't work. Also because some teens can go through a horrid stage so it could just be that.

But if I was in this situation I'd be pushing for proper assessment to find the cause.

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SpaceshiptoMars · 31/05/2022 10:13

Only some of his behaviours lean towards him being neurodiverse (lack of empathy and being able to take responsibility for his actions).

Hmm, I was thinking about his growing issue of computer/game addiction. This is also a nod towards neurodiversity.... Anyone in the older generations showing similar indications?

Agree that a local job for Dad, or a relocate to where his job is, is a priority.

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