Problems with 13 yr old stepson

Tammy - posted on 10/14/2012 ( 13 moms have responded )

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I write this as a concerned stepfather of a 13 year old boy and apologize ahead of time for the length of this. He has had the chore of taking out the trash for 1 1/2 yrs now. Literally not once in that whole time has he taken out the trash on his own. He has to be told every time to take it out whether it is taking it out throughout the week or taking it out for weekly collection on Wed night. Furthermore every Thurs afternoon (with the exception of 2 times in 1 1/2 yrs) when he comes home from school he walks right past the cans at the street and does not bring them up to the home. The problem is that his mother sees nothing wrong with it and does not provide any real consequences. His other chores (load dishwasher, clean room and bathroom, pick up his messes) give the same outcome. No real consequences for not doing them and when I get on to him for any of this, I become the bad one and it creates animosity from him to me because I am the only one enforcing rules, which in turn makes me hesitant to be the only one to enforce a rule.

When it is shower time he gets in with the water running but does not soap up or brush his teeth. (It is obvious that his toothpaste has not been used in 3+ weeks since the safety seal is still in place on the tube and given the placement of the soap and shampoo I know that that has not been touched either in the same time period) This has been ongoing for over a year also and mentioning it to his mother does not change a thing.

He is getting consistent C's and D's in school now and only repeated contact from the teachers to her is motivating her to make slight attempts at addressing his schoolwork. He is now laughing and thinking that it is funny when a teacher confronts him over late assignments. He is not disruptive, does not fight, does not seem to have the teenage angst problems but seems to be highly unmotivated and very immature for his age. I have overheard him talking about weed on the phone but not in the context that he was actually using it. I hesitate to tell him mother because she gets angry anytime I suggest that she try to enforce rules on him.

The consequences he receives are the loss of the TV in his room as well as his video games, going outside during the week and occasionally his cell phone. These seem to not phase him in the least, all he does is move to the living room to watch TV and plays video games on his smartphone instead. He does this until a behavior or grade improves and he gets his privileges back. Once he does and you give him an inch, give it one or two days and he takes a mile and the cycle repeats. The recent contact from teachers has prompted her to take him to a counselor who says that she needs to get on the same page with him and stick to her guns but other than that he has potential, just needs more direction.

He can be quite selfish and immature as well. A few months ago (still age 13) he ate a whole container of vitamin gummy bears (at least a 250 count container) in one sitting because he liked the taste and he knows without a doubt that in this case vitamins are considered a medicine and it can be harmful to have more than the recommended dose. I bought an 18 pack of granola bars in anticipation of having my 6 year old daughter over for the weekend (for some reason she loves granola bars so I like to have some around for her). Upon leaving in the morning to pick her up I told my stepson he was welcome to have a granola bar and upon returning with her that afternoon when she asked for a granola bar I discovered that he had eaten all 18 bars in a few hours time. He had no excuse for this other than he was hungry and did not want to eat any of the other numerous snacks/meals in the home. This was extremely disrespectful to my child and I as he knows that they were hers, although we do always share with him.

He outright lies to his mother and she knows perfectly well he is lying and does not confront him. I recently confronted him for lying to his mother, in front of his mother, and he continued to deny lying. The whole time he was lying to us, the evidence of what he was lying about was right in front of all of us. She gave me an odd look and said nothing to him and walked back to the couch to watch TV and that was it.

His mother was a single parent from my stepsons birth until I came into the picture 4 years ago, although his father has always stayed in contact with his son from a few hundred miles away. When he has his son stay with him during summer breaks, etc he is well behaved because he knows that he cannot get away with the same things that his mother lets him do. For the first day or so of returning from his father's he is still in good behavior mode but is quickly back to "normal". His father tries to parent his son from far away but is left at the mercy of his mother to enforce any punishment, rule or what have you. She rarely tells his father of his getting in trouble or misbehaving because then his father begins to say that it might be better for the son to come live with him in order to get his behavior under control. She gets extremely upset at the idea of this and that is why I think she does not mention his behavior to him anymore. When he has given his son a punishment over the phone, she lets him off the hook within hours and tells him that his dad would be mad if he knew that he was off of his punishment already. Four years ago this child was very well behaved, very interested in school and family and now is clearly headed down the wrong track and his mother is ignoring the fact. She says that she cannot be too hard on him because her mother was too hard on her and her brother and it pushed them away from her and she does not want her son feeling that way towards her. It is confusing because she will not elaborate on this issue with her mother and throughout knowing her for more than 9 years, she has had a more than excellent relationship with her mother.

His mother does not use alcohol or drugs, is home from work by 6pm and is overall a great person. She is "addicted" to tv and her own games on her tablet computer though. She will occasionally tell her son to do things but will not leave the couch to make sure he has obeyed. From the moment she gets home, apart from standing time to make dinner (unless I am the one who cooks) she does not leave the couch other than to use the restroom until her bedtime comes. This is literally the situation at least 5 nights a week. He knows this all too well and takes full advantage of it. I tell her that she cannot tell or ask him to do something, she has to get up and "make" him if she expects it to get done. She says that he is old enough to know better and she shouldnt have to keep telling him things. He may be old enough to know better but is no where near mature enough to know better. And worse is that he does know better, if he behaves at his dad's but makes the conscious choice to act differently for his mother and I, then that speaks volumes. I think this is part of what the counselor has said, she needs to set clear expectations and explain the consequences for ignoring or refusing and then enforcing those consequences consistently.

Am I wrong to think he needs more consistent structure, guidelines, consequences, etc in his life? I know that he is beginning his teenage years and it is something that I and everyone else on this board went through when we were growing up but there seems to be something more going on here. It is obvious that I cannot deal with him on my own or without her support. What more could I do to get her to realize the path her son is headed down. I am at my wits end because I see the problems to come on the horizon and she is oblivious to it and I worry that our relationship may end because of it. I love her and care for my stepson as well but cannot continue to deal with this, especially with my daughter being witness to all of this as well. Any feedback is appreciated!

13 Comments

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Kristin - posted on 11/21/2012

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Sounds like his mother is an enabler and she needs to see she is not doing her son any good by letting him get away with everything. My own mother was and still is an enabler and my brother and I had no consequences for anything, When we became adults its was a struggle for both of us to learn how to do things on our own. I am now 32 and still argue with my mother over how she enables my kids it is causeing a lot of stress on me as I dont want to hurt my mom but i really wish she would follow my parenting with my kids. I believe in consequences and discipline and I make sure my kids do there chores. My mom thinks i am too hard on them as I feed them healthy meals and if they dont eat whats in front of them thety go to bed with no snacks. I also put my kids on time out if they misbehave which too my mohter is also bad parenting. I know it is hard to talk to enablers as I still cant get my mother to listen to me but keep trying to get your wife on the same page as you.

Tammy - posted on 10/28/2012

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His mom has talked briefly with one counselor and I do not really know for sure what was discussed. He is a very booksmart kid and he has no problem doing or understanding his schoolwork, he simply does not do it or if he does do it then he "forgets" to turn it in. I do not understand how he can forget to turn something in when the teacher says all the students get out their reports etc and walk them in single file up to the teachers desk. With all of his classmates up and turning in their homework, he should know to do the same. Lately he has been failing an honors class that he is in. After having a D avg in the class his video games were taken away, one month later he has brought it down to an F. Even his teacher says that it seems like he is intentionally failing this class. I think his biggest problem is his mom enabling him to behave like this. What little consequences he has for misbehaving are inconsistent at best.

L R - posted on 10/18/2012

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Tommy, you definitely have some issues here.... first of all, it's okay if he is clingy right now. I believe he is going through a stage that they want to be "little" as well as turning into a "teenager". It's a very confusing period for kids. I wouldn't worry to much as long as his mom is fully dressed in pajamas, etc. He obviously needs some bonding and reassurance. However, if he is getting detention and his mom is rewarding him by allowing him to go on an overnight trip with a friend...well, there needs to be addressed. He is having problems doing the work? Has mom gone into the counselors to discuss these issues? There may be a need for this child to get help at school by staying after hours and working with a teacher. I would also say that your partner needs to set some ground rules such as.... no tv until homework is done and as a reward, we'll watch a show together. She needs to be sure that she is not enabling him in any way....

Tammy - posted on 10/17/2012

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Oh yes, that would should have been Tommy and spell check or whatever changed it to Tammy lol. Anyways he and I used to do things one on one but he has withdrawn from wanting to do much anymore and I try not to pressure or make him do something with he if he doesn't. On the other hand, he has been very clingy to his mother lately. Sitting with her joined at the hip on the couch or actually getting under our bed sheets and watching TV with her if she happens to be watching in the bedroom. Personally I think it is inappropriate for a kid that age to be under the sheets in our bed, after all his mother and I do "things" in between those sheets and it is wierd to have him laying on the same sheets. I have talked to her about this before and she stopped him for many months but has begun letting him in our bed again. So lately he seems to have some sort of desire to be by her side a lot more than even a few months ago. He has gotten 2 detentions for failure to do schoolwork since his last meeting with a counselor 2 weeks ago. One day after he got his second detention, his mother let him go on an overnight trip with a friend to a water park. She didn't think that he should be punished for the detention.

L R - posted on 10/17/2012

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LOL okay now it definitely puts a twist on things. When I saw Tammy I assumed lol. I still believe that he is in a rebel stage but acting out can be of many things, including bullying or maybe is a the bullier??? There is jealousy he has toward you and your daughter. May I suggest you taking him out maybe once every 2 weeks alone and do "guy" things? Maybe you already do but it may be that he needs alone time with each of you. My son is a teen and I'll tease him when we go out to dinner alone when my husband is working late. I'll tell him that we are on a date and he rolls his eyes up. Believe me, I find out alot when we are together. My husband spends time with him alone and actually started an online game with him that they are on the same "force". It's quite funny but it gives them something in common which is hard to do with teens! Maybe show up with a box of treats just for him and see what he says...

Tammy - posted on 10/17/2012

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LH,



I'm sorry, I thought I put it in my post that I am the stepfather lol. I did t know where to turn so I wanted to ask moms what their opinion is of this issue we are dealing with. Now maybe he has changed his mind and doesn't like the idea of his mom having someone in her life after never having a father figure in the home before. It's just frustrating because all 3 o us got along fine while his mother and I were friends and still was fine the first year of our relationship. Things have changed in the last 2 yrs as he has started to become a teenager. I do think that as he ages he needs to have more meaningful structure and consequences that are appropriate for his age.

As far as friends, he has plenty and most of them are a good influence. When they are over he and his friends interact with his mother and I fine, when he is home with just us then that is when he acts up.

L R - posted on 10/17/2012

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Well, with not meaning it to be in negative form but society in general will 'frown" upon same sex relationships and maybe he is getting bullied over his mom's sexuality as well as other reasons. Kids are mean at this age and I truly believe that he is being tormented in school over many issues, one being your relationship with his mom. He won't admit to it but something tells me that kids are the root of this problem. Does he have friends? Is he a loner? If so, I would say bullying is going on therefore, causing him to resent you as well.

Tammy - posted on 10/16/2012

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LFR,



Do you feel that it could be his relationship with me, or do you mean he may not like my relationship with his mother?

Tammy - posted on 10/16/2012

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Thankyou for the posts so far, it gives me some more insight and ideas. He has been to counseling but I was not there and I seriously question how truthful his mother was with the counselor as I agree that she is still a little over protective of him, despite blatantly and obviously wrong things that he is doing. I would like to go with her to a counselor or mediator to get us both on the same page as any attempts to do so at home end up with her getting angry and denying his problems. I would also like to be able to talk to my stepsons counselor as I think the counselor could do better with him if they were working with feedback from both parents.

As far as my relationship with him, it was great when I first came around. In fact for the first year his mother and I were not even dating, just friends. After our relationship began, things were still great between all of us, very little discipline needed. Late 11, early 12 is when his behavior started going south. I chalk most of this up to him becoming a teenager but some of it is a total lack of discipline from her and it is discipline that I cannot give and enforce on my own.

Again, thanks everyone for your help and suggestions so far!

L R - posted on 10/16/2012

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It sounds like this young teen has a few problems... regarding chores... well, that is normal for all kids not to do it without being told several times lol. However, there is something deeper going on... does he love you? your relationship?



This boy is looking for help and he may need to see someone. He may also be having issues at school such as being bullied on that he won't share with you. There is definitely something causing his behavior and i have a feeling that it's your relationship in the household and that he's being bullied at school. Just a hunch ...

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Hello!

I'm a mom of 5 so I hope my info helps! For starters, know you are not alone in this! Parenting a teen is extremely hard. Parenting a step child is even harder. Kudos to you for being a caring/concerned step parent! I would say you need to maybe take his mother out for some time alone and speak with her. You need to help her understand that she does not have to be in the "middle" so to speak of this. Tell her you care for her son as she does and that you are on her team in helping this child. But you must let her know that kids know when parents are n the same page....and when they are not. He knows how much he can push his mom and get away with, and he also knows what he is able to do and not have very stiff consequences. If she is taking away privlidges from him and he can weasel his way around it, he will. The truth of that is....ALL kids do this. In my experience, theres only one way to go about it.....both of you must be on the same page and enforce and support eachother no matter what. Never discuss, or argue about your disagreements when it comes to his dicipline either. Do it in private, or kids will take notes on it (mentally) I recenty got married and all 5 of my children are by my ex husband so it took some adjustment for my husband and my kids having a step parent around. I am a very loving, but strict with dicipline. I always made sure my kids understood what was acceptable and what wasnt. I also let them know that we are now a family and that my husband and I were the coaches who run our family team. My kids knowing this tho is what made things much smoother. Now I will tell you....being a single mom for some years, I grew very protective of my kids and ive found most single moms do this as well. She may still be in that phase it sounds like since she is not follwing thru on discipline so much with him? That is my strong guess on this without even knowing her just from what you said. But no matter what, it starts with you and your wife. You gotta get her support on this. Also explain to her your concerns and that you are there to parent WITH her not AGAINST her. Sounds like you have, but you have to keep trying. You said you have a daughter as well so you need to also let her know that for all the kids sake how important it is for you both to hold the kids to what discipline you give and not be relaxed in it. The longer that goes on, the worse ive found it to be. My son is almost 9 and I also have to tell him to take out the trash, and bring the cans in. If it makes you feel any better, he looks at me everyday as if its totally a new thing. It drives me nuts too!! I have 4 girls and he is the only boy. Ive definately found that boys are very different from the girls. lol I hope this info helps! I know exactly what you are going thru, so being that I was faced with the exact same thing I thought I would try to help. :)

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