In one ear and out the other.. why are we not getting through?

Jenni - posted on 09/06/2013 ( no moms have responded yet )

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I'm becoming increasingly concerned about my step son who is now 12. He has been living with my partner and I for the past 3 years after issues with his mother. My partner said that as a younger child he was always quiet, well behaved and followed instructions well (my partner and his then wife split when he was 18 months old but they continued regular contact). The problem is he just doesn't seem to be able to absorb information/instructions and this has been an ongoing issue for 3 years. Every day we find ourselves having the same conversations with him like "clean the toilet seat when you pee on it" "wash your hands" "wash your hands properly", usually several times EACH day. These are just the daily annoyances. At school he has a system where school lunches are paid via an online system, we gave him a daily budget, he overspends, we talk to him about it and explain why it's important for him to stick to the budget and try to suggest ways to help him keep control of the spend, he says OK, he gives the impression he has understood, yet the following day he'll do the self same thing again. Any activities he is involved in, other than gaming, are slapdash, he doesn't take care of his personal appearance, quite often he smells because he doesn't remember to put on antiperspirant, when he does chores at home he does the absolute bare minimum and usually gets sent back to re-do the job. In his school work he has a general sense of apathy, his assignments are late, he forgets kit, his work is very poorly presented and we know he is capable of so much more. He is a very intelligent boy.

We've tried withdrawing privileges (like TV and gaming time), giving him additional and unpleasant chores but he just doesn't seem to learn. I feel like we are banging our heads against the wall with him and if I'm honest it's really causing tension in our house.

I'm beginning to wonder if there is a more deep rooted psychological issue at play. We know that his mother is very controlling and that she resorted to physical violence on several occasions when he lived with her and I wonder if this behaviour is a reaction to that or if it's just "normal" and we just need to stick with repeating ourselves day in day out until he "grows out of it".

I would appreciate any ideas on how to move this situation forward.

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