My relationship with a 16 year old step non is ruining my marriage!
I married for the first time four years ago. Today I'm 37, my wife is 40 and the step son is 16. We also have a two year old daughter. We moved out of a big city two years ago and purchased a nice property in a small town two hours away.
When I met my wife the boy was 12 years old. A tiny, quiet kid. He has been brought up by his mother since she got divorced from the original father when the boy was 2 years old. From about 3 yrs old to 5yrs old he lived with the mothers grandparents as she was going through some troubles.
While I dated my future wife she spoke very highly of her son. great grades, very intelligent and responsible. I recall her saying 'he even asks how much we have in the bank' to make sure they will be ok. She also mentioned he can be lazy. My wife dated multiple men before committing to me and lived with one partner in his residence for over a year. That relationship ended in a nasty breakup which included my wife having to hide in the basement until she was able to get a place of her own.
The first period of our life together (about 10 months) was marked by my wife being rather aggressive towards her son which included a lot of arguments and unreasonable shouting. While that was happening the son would depend on her mother for everything. There was not one piece of homework with which the mother would not have to help with or do herself all together. If necessary the son would wait for his mother until late at night 11pm midningt to ask for help (in cases when she was just busy with other things or not home) or ask for help at 7am just before school. All meals would have to be prepared by the mother, fruit had to be cut and pealed ... otherwise the son would not eat and just stay hungry. Anything that was to be bought for him from pizza to clothing had to be high end.
During the first 10 months i stepped in a number of times to break up their arguments and did tot say much on the sons dependence on her mother.
It should be noted that the mother and myself do not have a good handle on our nerves. Once in a while we are both capable of blowing up in a pretty bad way and become very unreasonable.
In the second stage of our marriage so roughly during the second year things started to change. The son started high school. The demands for help with homework continued as well as the cut and pealed fruit. Despite encouragement which he received from both of us he would refuse to prepare anything to eat ... not even a simple cheese sandwich. This is when I started to be increasingly frustrated with the situation at home. I tried to push my wife to ask her son to be more independent to 'grow up' a little. For example trying to make him start eating apples as they are and not wait for the mother to cut and peal them. It was a frustrating process with little success ... but still some. Unfortunately during that time our fights intensified and did involve the motive of her son from time to time. Her fighting with him stopped almost completely.
At the end of the second year we had our daughter, bought a house and moved out of the big city.
The son had some difficulties interacting with the baby and was devastated by leaving the city, his friends and his school. He refused to enroll in his new high school and missed first two weeks all together. He would vandalize the house - nothing huge however. He refused to do anything. He became absolutely lazy. At this point we stopped communicating with each other. There were instances of me being very upset with him and some strong words were said. He would either answer with disrespectful talk back or completely ignore the situation. The mother after the initial month at the new house when she was upset with him turned into a very protective and loving mommy accepting of everything the son would desire.
Some situations picturing that include; we enrolled the son int an advanced study program since he is in fact intelligent. After few months he convinced that he doesn't need to be in it as the level of education isn't high at all and that it limits him as to which courses he wants to study or will need to get into university. the mother agreed to let him quit. Reality was that he was now able to study at a even lower level and was not forced to take mostly 'serious' subjects.
Another example; during the last two winters (we live in Canada) the boy shoveled the snow three times. He mowed the lawn once. Roughly he does one piece of house work a week (something quick like taking out the trash) he is unbelievably lazy. After numerous talks with my wife and her promises to fix that nothing is changing and perhaps is getting even worse.
Another example; the sons attendance in school is very poor. He misses approximately 1/3 (33%) of his classes. he does it with his mother consent or without. In cases when she finds out after the fact there is no reaction. He misses most of his major tests and stays home for three four days after they take place to 'study' so that he can take them later and get a good grade.
By now so four years into our marriage my wife considers me to be very insensitive towards her son. In fact she claims I hate him and I'm ruining his life. That the boy suffers because of me.
I admit I do not like him. I admit I could do many things much better. But it is incredibly difficult! He never says 'hi' or 'bye'. Has never said 'I'm sorry' and rarely says 'thank you'. It seems he puts in a lot of effort to get out of doing any chores. He is capable of spending an entire day in bed claiming he is feeling tired while I'm doing work around the house (we have a large property which needs lot's of effort to maintain). He refuses to get a part time job to help out with getting the things he wants which still need to be high end ... latest iphone etc.
My wife is of different nationality and often when I'm around they communicate in their native tongue.
There have been situations where he caused serious trouble which ended in a huge conflict between me and my wife.
At 15 when we were away for a week he threw a party at the house for around 40 kids. Mostly underage. The house was trashed including my in home office where I hold many of my valuable items (antiques which i sell) The neighbors reported insane levels of loud foul language, scores of drunk teens, drunk teens climbing out of out second story windows and getting up on the roof. One neighbor was nearly assaulted while trying to talk to the drunk and or high teens. The police was called twice. That was on the first night ... the party continued the next night with similar scenes. Our glasses and cups were later returned by neighbors who found them on their lawns.
After returning and learning what had happened I just lost it. I was incredibly mad and angry with the son. In uncertain terms i told him what i thin of what he did and him. The mother was initially very upset as well ... that is untill the son complained that I'm not treating him right. that he party wasn't that big of a deal anyways. Somehow all the anger from the mother turned towards me. We had a serious conflict which lasted around a week while the son escaped with no consequences at all!
Recently there was another serious incident which included a night of drinking and vanadalism. The son has also lost his iphone in the process. The end result was the same. The mother is incredibly upset at me because I'm upset at the son. he faced no consequences and was given two days off of school as 'he is not feeling well'.
I do not know how to handle the step son anymore. I believe there is absolutley no chance at us having a normal relationship. The only thing I can do is to try to ignore everything that he does and not get involved. Let him do whatever he wants. That works only until something significant happens and it is too much to handle.
The mother forgives him for everything and allows everything. They boy receives no discipline at all. The mother accuses me of destroying her sons life.
Our relationship is in ruins. The future of our two year old daughter is in question, the house which we renovated which such passion is in danger of being gone as well. Our businesses which are interconnected will take a hit too.
I do not know what to do. I feel like i can not do anything to change the way the son behaves and i also an not do anything about the way my wife handles this situation as well. I can only ignore this and hope he will go to University soon and eventually move out.
Recently he convinced his mother that we needs to stay in high school for and extra year so that he can spread out the serious subjects he needs to take in order to apply into university ... so that he can concentrate on each more in order to get good grades. keep in mind that he bearly studies as he is intelligent and it comes easy to him.
I fear he will stay at home for many years to come. not only throughout University but afterwards as well. he is dependand on his mother for everything. At 16 he has been given a debit card to our account and is allowe to take money out at will. I can not argue this decision by his mother.
I am far from being the perfect step dad, in fact I might be on the 'bad step dad' side but ... i need help. I do not want this 16 year old to be the reason for my marriage to be destroyed. I do not want my daughter to be a single parent child.
Sorry you are going through this. Yes, children from previous relationships can really affect the current marriage.
It sounds like your wife has indulged this boy and created a young man who clearly does not know boundaries or possess people skills or respects authority, not to mention respect for women. Now he is older and the stakes are higher. I'm surprised that there was not court-ordered family counseling after his most recent brush with the law.
How you are your wife are going to teach this fella how to treat you and others is the dilemma. But unless your wife is on board that there are SERIOUS issues with him, then all intervention involvement will be for naught.
Get professional help, ASAP. First you two go, then bring in the son.
I'm afraid that there is no real plan on how to deal with our step son. I am out of the picture as a 'teacher' or person with any real authority. The mother is concerned only when things are really boiling and forgets when they are just simmering. We do have a very busy schedule which is very helpful when it comes to ignoring certain problems.
Professional help is also not an option because as the mother states it is just not needed as there is nothing seriously wrong ... unless we're talking about me. I truly feel helpless. Time after time I come to the conclusion that however flood this approach is all I can do is to do my best to ignore the problems and concentrate on not inflaming them ... and hope for the best.
Sometimes kids can be difficult at the best of times, especially teens, and that's not even after facing all the turmoil that your stepson has gone through.
He was separated from his mother to live with his grandparents from 3 to 5, then there was multiple 'father figures' even one whom your wife had to hide from in a basement, was her son with her through this also? Then the first ten months when she was with you, she seemed to be aggressive towards her son, in his eyes possibly had to fight for his mothers attention sharing her again with you, ie cutting his fruit or refusing to eat. Good or bad, attention is attention. And I could tell from your 2nd sentence that you have no great love for your stepson "The Stepson" , so if that's apparent through your vocabulary, I'm only assuming its apparent to your stepson ten fold.
When the second child comes along in a lot of cases its fairly common for the first child to be jealous (I have two kids and my daughter at times feels this) and it is difficult to keep calm in a stressful situation, when at times we think, nothing is ever going to change. But we have the power to make it change.
Your wife may want to do 'everything' for her son to make up for not being there in his younger years, she may feel guilty and so anything he asks she thinks maybe doing it, is the answer. It may relieve a little guilt if that's what shes feeling, but its not helping her son. (I used to do everything for my daughter)
Does your stepson feel that you both trust him again (after the party) ask him to babysit? or to help with the shopping, ok maybe not the shopping my son just point blankly refuses. But he'll take it in from the car and put it away. Maybe try to involve him in decisions, what would you get for your wife's birthday, his sisters birthday, I'm sure you know what they like already, but to help bring him back into the family setting, and not to feel like he is being pushed out
Explain to your wife that you feel pushed out and let her know that you are willing to try help make your family life better and happier, ask her for ideas, what about a family night? movie pizza, and I'm not trying to make out that something like that is the answer. But sometimes a simple gesture showing someone that you do care, that you are also hurting but are willing to try help, can sometimes open the other persons eyes and realize that yes, maybe things will get better!
Hope things work out for you all soon.
Yes, you're absolutely right that my stepson has gone through a lot in his short life. And yes, he was hiding in the basement with his mother when she was trying to find and then afford a place of their own. The kid faced a lot of negative situations that could have easily shaped him into even worse character.
I will not lie, when things at home are problematic I do not feel much love for him and he knows it. It is unfortunate, very unfair to him and bad behavior on my part.
There are many factors which create this difficult environment for our relationship ... factors that affect it so much and are hard to control as there is usually something that disturbs peace and 'normality' in our house.
I have been with him alone for the past few days as my wife is away for a week. He behaves very differently when his mom is not around. He doesn't skip school, doesn't talk back and does light chores at home. I imagine he is simply afraid to be 'bad' as he knows my reactions to that stuff are much sharper than his mom. In return I feed him huge breakfasts and dinners and drive him around as he needs ...
The mom factor seems to be huge in our relationship.
Well given that your stepson acts differently when his mom isn't around, it appears to me that yes partially could be as you say he 'knows' your reactions to that stuff and knows you won't take it. But also I think he is still, for want of a better word, punishing his mom and keeping her in 'Guilt' mode for her past, as he may see it negligence towards him.
When he's in that calm mood where you can get through to him, what about suggesting doing something together, find out what he would like to do maybe a hobby? self defence classes or something similar that maybe you could join too. But I guess at that age kids don't want to join with their parents/step parents (I have a 16yr son hes almost 17) and he wont even go shopping with me! But it looks like he respects you, as he doesn't run riot when his mom is away, he actually behaves and listens to you, so you are doing something right! Even if right now things get very chaotic at home. And I know how that feels too at times, but he didnt skip school for you, so thats good!
Does he have any pets? sometimes owning a pet can be very therapeutic and give the owner a sense of responsibility to look after and feed and love them. And might help him focus more.
And if you can convince your wife that the past is past. If she is feeling guilty, she cant change the past but its the present and future that matters now. Her dwelling on it and then 'giving' everything to her son to make up for it, won't help her son. As his behaviour will always be as it is around her. So I think your wife has to make some changes and maybe then the situation will get better.