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Dealing with SO 13 y/o son

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Shockleader posted 8/12/2014 18:33 PM


SO and I have been together for over a year, LDR, where I see her on weekends/long weekends either coming here, or I stay at her place. Some weekends while I am there the boy will be at his dads for a day, and back on Sunday. The dad is a mess; drug addicted cheater, living with the other piece of cheater trash, poaching animals (with son), law breaking, you name it.

SO is extremely kind, very conflict avoidant, and takes way too much disrespect from her boy. He openly disrespects her by barking out demands such as "make me toast", drops all his sports gear in the middle of the floor/doorway, tracks in mud clods w/o cleaning it up, his friends yell loudly when over, drops food all over the house, leaves dirty dishes on the floor, breaks nice things without a care in the world, "forgets" to flush the toilet, etc... SO tries to get him to change, but her nearly unenforced threats are ignored and the terrible behavior continues. I stand back with tight lips, not sure what I should exactly do/my role?

In the apartment the boy will not talk to me, sit at the table with me, the mood is extremely tense for me, and at family functions he refers to me as "him", or points never using my name. I pretty much live in one of the bedrooms when he is home and SO isn't. I have shown his mom great respect and kindness in front of him, been kind to him treating him with respect, and the situation is a mess. My SO is very distraught because she feels the boy is becoming just like his dad. I have not intervened, but told her that it is a huge deal for me and our relationship, and feels like it could cause the relationship to end as is. This only add stress to her, but what else can I gently say but the truth? I know the boy may not like having guys around mom/going to bed together, his privacy compromised; just the same this can not stand.

What do you do in this situation as simply "the boyfriend"? I raised my DD to be respectful, kind, very empathetic, and she is this way today. Maybe I am making more of it than is there, but how does one get this behavior to modify/slow down? Of course the boy has never married/no children aunts who earn a lot more $$$ than SO, and they buy him super fancy Xbox games, $$$$$$ shoes/clothes, very expensive sports gear, big bux dinners out. The boy even told his mom the Xmas gifts he got from her were "cheap" (yeah, as if the Adidas and Under Armor hoodies SO bought come from all-a-dollar)... I damn near came unglued!. SO never takes anything away as punishment, and she tries to reason with the boy with abject failure. It really is to the point, and I have told SO that I really can't live this way, I know she feels terrible about it and the chance I may leave the relationship. It seems to be getting worse, and I can't imagine what it will be like as he gets older.

Your insights and help are appreciated. Thank you for enduring my post.

hardtimesinlife posted 8/12/2014 18:58 PM

I wouldn't be able to take that and I am all about the kids. This situation sounds about a half step away from abusive toward your SO. She's also not earning his respect. Most kids want to have boundaries placed for them because they feel too out of control without them. IDK, I think her passivity might drive you crazy in the long run, even after her son is grown and gone.

fireproof posted 8/12/2014 19:21 PM

Unless the kid is a trouble maker and even then I see kids as kids.

As an adult and a kid we want to be loved and respected. If she is someone who you see long term even if she isn't I would listen to what he could be saying.

Try to meet him at his level without giving up your standards. See how he responds. As much as he is acting out he is also either not getting the right feedback or seeking attention.

Show him it doesn't matter what he does and spend an afternoon with him if possible engaged in an activity and you will possibly start to see him open up.

Shockleader posted 8/12/2014 19:23 PM

Good call on the passivity... I have mentioned to her many times that you must not accept what is soft abuse from people. She will be the only one to help her mom with grass cutting, landscaping, home help with 3 siblings close by. When people at work F-off, she picks up the slack without saying a peep, takes terrible demeaning crap from her boss, even with me at times, she will not voice something I feel needs to be addressed, and you can see her visibly shrink up.

Thank you for the boundaries suggestion; I will gently try to wedge this in with her soon.

Shockleader posted 8/12/2014 19:31 PM

Show him it doesn't matter what he does and spend an afternoon with him if possible engaged in an activity and you will possibly start to see him open up.

Thank you. I have tried this several times, maybe I need to fine tune things.

I'm ex Army Infantry, so I help him with weapons selection with his Xbox games/tell him how they work, and once brought over some SUPER NEAT, bad ass assault rifles and pistols for him to hold, examine, experience... It would have been heaven for me, and he did seem to enjoy it. I did buy him a nice fishing outfit, a compound bow, and think it really ruffled the dads feathers and I hope the boy did not suffer for this... Only thing that ruffled me a bit was he did not even say thanks.

norabird posted 8/12/2014 23:42 PM

I wonder if your SO knows that she is not doing her son any favors by letting him treat her this way? He needs to learn boundaries and respect which means she needs to learn to assert boundaries and rules. He may act out at that but in the end he would benefit from it.

It's not only going to be an issue for your relationship with her--it's going to be a problem for the kid. I think it's good that you are expressing to her that it's not tenable, because she needs to get that message.

I'm sure it's hard on your part to sit back and just watch this unfold but kudos for keeping your distance.

Kajem posted 8/13/2014 00:16 AM

Would she read a book?

Boundaries with kids by Cloud and Townsend (I think).

How old is he?

SIL had a very rough time with her son when she was dating. He gave her such a hard time, she stopped dating altogether. It wasn't worth the price he charged for her to date.

It sounds like you got a toe in his door, keep working at it.

Would it be worthwhile or you to read a step fathering book to help you help her?

Good luck!

Runningaway posted 8/13/2014 02:37 AM

I have three sons, my youngest is 13. It is such a hard age. I call it "more brawn than brain."
13 is hard, 14 is often worse. Can you put up with this for another year or two? With a smile on your face?
Children always know how you feel about them. If you can't find it in your heart to deal with this child with love, then don't deal with him. You sound like you have great possibilities to enrich and help shape this boy's life.
It's not a fault of yours if you aren't up for the challenge. You need to be honest with yourself about what you want, and what you're capable of dealing with.

FWIW I don't like taking things away from my kids as punishment either. I guess it depends on the kid though. I do take away their cell phones when they're grounded.

I was very hard on my oldest, he is a great kid. He's 17, straight A student, on several local boards, volunteers in our community in his own areas of interest not just mine. He's also suicidal and under the care of several doctors/therapists to help him manage the extremely high expectations he sets out for himself.
I think to myself all the time that I loved him so much, and I was always trying to do what was best, and I still screwed up. Think of the hell you could put a kid through that you didn't love?

It's not easy, good luck with this.

cayc posted 8/13/2014 06:38 AM

How old is this kid? He's under 18 right?

Setting aside her parenting, and your desire to see her deal with this better ... if he's under 18, why are you staying at her house when he is there if you aren't engaged to be married/married? I won't excuse his acting out (b/c that's what this is - kids can't use their words when they are super pissed at what's happening TO them sometimes), and like everyone, I'm troubled by your GFs willingness to be run over by him (people? do you see her do this with others?), but mostly I'm troubled by you being there at the apartment without her. This is this boy's HOME. His safe place, and he's telling you that he doesn't feel safe when you are there (it's a glitch in the matrix for him, a disturbance in the force, whatever you want to describe it as). Even though he's expressing his dislike of a new man in house, that his parents are D, really really badly - he's expressing it like a kid would. And judging him for it is a little unkind when it doesn't sound like either of his parents have done diddley squat to help him (such as provide a stable home environment free of SOs, IC etc). And goodness only knows what's going on in his own life (maybe he's bullied at school, maybe he's gay and doesn't want to admit it, maybe his teachers have given up on him and he feels like crap about it etc)

I think - since changing someone else is never an option - that you need to rethink this aspect of your relationship and maybe stop being at her place when the kids are there.

[This message edited by cayc at 6:38 AM, August 13th, 2014 (Wednesday)]

million pieces posted 8/13/2014 08:57 AM

If you are serious about this, then there are a lot of books about how to approach blending families. PM me and I will remember to write down my growing list (all at home, I'm at work). This is not an uncommon reaction to a shitty situation and I'll agree with everything cayc said above.

Shockleader posted 8/13/2014 09:13 AM

Thanks ladies for the wise insight!


To add to the knowledge base, they have never lived together as a family AFAIK, and they were never married.

I have since the beginning been very concerned and cognisant for/of the boys feeling of 'his home' (why I mentioned his privacy compromised), and have always asked first, before anything else what SO feelings are about my presence/there when she is not. She says it is fine when she talks to her son, and there is no issue??? Well, I guess perhaps there is more, and why when I am there without her, I stay in a bedroom with the door closed, or out as much as possible to allow him to feel safe/as safe as possible.

I am going to discuss this with her today, and see what shakes out. Thanks again everyone.

sparkysable posted 8/13/2014 09:22 AM

I have a feeling that she has been a pushover his whole life.

You can't undo 13 years of passive parenting. You just can't.

I would never have DARED to treat my parents that way. "MAKE ME TOAST!" Dafuk? My parents would have knocked me into next Tuesday! Dropped my stuff in the middle of the floor? My parents would have given me 30 seconds to clean it up, or else it would have ended up in the garbage. And if it didn't get cleaned up, I can promise you my parents would have followed through.

No follow through and a history of poor parenting? You can't work miracles. He's not going to change, and she's not going to change. Personally, it would not be worth it to me.

kg201 posted 8/13/2014 09:29 AM

14 is absolutely a difficult age, especially for boys. I teach 14 and 15 year olds, and I can definitely say this is the peak of adolescence.

I second the call for setting boundaries. Work with your gf to figure out reasonable consequences for the behavior, and then follow through with it.

I think the final consequence has to be that if he can't follow the rules of her house, then he can go live with his father. Your gf may not be willing to do this, but she may be doing more damage to him by allowing him to treat her like this, than by sending him off.

This has to come from her. You are not in a position to discipline him. You can support her by helping her strategize and supporting her through the tough patches. If possible some family counseling may be helpful. It will be a place for her to express her feelings to her son in front of someone who is trained to facilitate this type of discussion in tense situations.

cayc posted 8/13/2014 10:02 AM

what SO feelings are about my presence/there when she is not. She says it is fine when she talks to her son, and there is no issue???

But from his behavior, there clearly is an issue and her response to you is the passive rollover you are witnessing her display with her son. She may be saying yes to appease you, not because it's what she truly believes/wants.

Well, I guess perhaps there is more, and why when I am there without her, I stay in a bedroom with the door closed, or out as much as possible to allow him to feel safe/as safe as possible.

How does hiding in her bedroom make a child feel safe? You're there, and you're hiding. That's not safe, that's creepy (from a child's perspective). YOU may feel safe hiding away, but from the son's behavior, it doesn't sound like that is how he sees it.

No offense, but you can't change their behavior. You can only do what's right. Which is not staying in the home, being in the home, when he's there and she's not. And likely also not being there at all when there is the likelihood he might be.

trying_2_recover posted 8/13/2014 10:12 AM

I agree with cayc and will add you are so worried about the disrespect this child is showing to you and his mother but neither of you are respecting him and his feelings either.

In the apartment the boy will not talk to me, sit at the table with me, the mood is extremely tense for me, and at family functions he refers to me as "him", or points never using my name.
You consider this disrespect I consider it him making clear his feelings in a way a typical 13 yo would and nobody cares. It's tense for you? Just imagine how tense it is for him?

I'm sensitive when it comes to an SO's input on children since my X completely changed his relationship with ours to please his OW so my opinion may be extreme but honestly I'd not be happy with someone coming into my household and having such a negative opinion of my child and my parenting. I also though wouldn't have a man my child doesn't like and doesn't feel comfortable around in my house for a weekend having sexy time either for what that's worth.

You say he comes in and dumps all his gear in the middle of the floor but have you considered that while it bothers you and seems disrespectful to you it was obviously fine with his mother for 13 yrs or she would have done something about it? So you are judging him as disrespectful for something that was fine in his household until you came along. You are judging him on standards you have but that he wasn't raised to meet and that is not his doing but his mother's. Most likely because those things that are important to you were not important to her and because she's so passive with the people in her life she's afraid to tell you so.

TheHardWay posted 8/13/2014 14:47 PM

I have two sons that are now 20 and 24. My new husband and I have been together since 2007. In the beginning, he lived 2 hrs away - and when we eventually progressed to the point where he was spending weekends with me, I would never have left him and ds at home without me. No matter how much ds like my then SO I wouldn't have put either one of them in that awkward position. Just my opinion. This should not happen.

As far as the other stuff - I think that if she lets him act out and back talk like this now, in front of you, its not going to change. And more than likely, she isn't going to appreciate any input that you have in changing it. Again, just my opinion.

My now husband does not have kids. He knowingly walked into a relationship with a lady (that's me) 8 yrs younger than him, 2 hours away from him with two teen boys. Brave, brave man!! LOL. Still is -

wildbananas posted 8/13/2014 15:25 PM

Speaking as someone who tried blending families with a live-in SO years ago, I firmly believe all parenting and discipline should be left to the bio parents. The SO has jack to say about anything, especially in front of the kids. This is not to say disrespect is okay because it isn't... but at the end of the day, it's for the bio parent to handle however they choose.

I really believe you need to follow how your SO chooses to handle things. And if it's something that you can't live with, then you have to decide if you want to stay or go. But at the end of the day, the parenting is all hers, good or bad.

I let XSO call way too many shots, parenting included, when we were together and it was bad. The bunch resented the hell out of it (rightfully so) and so did I. And he was pissed all the time because he didn't like how I handled the bunch (they didn't act anything like this kid), which made him snarkier, which made them more resentful... it was a real hamster wheel.

I'm not saying this kid is acting appropriately. I'm not even going to take a guess at why he's like this or if it's all the time or whatever. But having been in the blending families position before, I really believe there is a huge line between an SO and a parent and the parent has all the power in how its crossed.

One thing I will say... blending families was the hardest thing I've EVER done and that includes ex-asshat's As and our D. If you two decide to tackle this together (and it is possible), you two need to be 100% on the same page and I firmly believe counseling is needed for everyone involved (not just you guys but any blended situation). It's a constant, ongoing thing, blending families, and requires a boatload of communication and understanding.

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