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My partners son has ADHD and it’s ruining our relationship

Hairmoda's picture

My partners son is 13 and has a pretty severe case of ADHD. I thought I could handle it and after living together it really opened my eyes to the severity and I became very overwhelmed and depressed and as a result it put a strain on me and my partners relationship. I have a five year old boy who is very active and social and I became very aware and worried of the negative influence his son was having on mine. We obviously raised our children very differently as most parents do but the result of that was rubbing off on my son. 


Not only is this young teen going through all the normal stages of puberty and maturing but he is going through it with adhd which makes everything 100 times worse. Some of the bad behaviours include extremely poor hygiene, sneaking food and hiding the leftovers in his room (I was finding rotten food constantly), the inability to focus on anything other then video games and stupid you tube videos, no social cues st all, he is very wierd which hey we are all wierd in one way or another but he makes wierd noises and even when asked to stop he forgets so quickly and starts making wierd noises again. His attitude is out of this world, he will stomp his feet and walk away when he doesn’t get his way and scream and cry like you’re beating him. A few weeks ago he hid food from his lunch under my sons bed because he didn’t want to get in trouble for not eating the healthy snacks and the only reason I found them was because I saw a trail of ants coming from under my sons bed and when I moved the bed I found fruit from who knows when just shoved under there. He either wants to play video games or watch you tube videos of people playing video games. He has pushed teachers at school and often gets teased by his peers because of his poor hygiene. I love my partner very much and obviously I know he comes as a package deal and if I take one I must take them all. I am struggling because now that we live apart my sons behaviour has done a 360 flip. My son is a very smart boy and I don’t want him singing chicken nugget songs he learns from his stepbrother who is maturing at the speed of a tortoise. I’m trying not to be selfish but I want my son to be an astronaut not a chicken nugget. I really don’t know what to do and I need to talk about this with anyone who may be in a similar situation or who has experience with young teens who have adhd. I am trying to educate myself on his condition but everything I read says it doesn’t get better, the problems will only change as he gets older and I really don’t want my son to be around him. Am I a bad person? I feel so terrible like I think my kid is better or something. I’m just worried and want the best for my son. This man is amazing to him but I cannot stand his child. Please help me!!!


Just J's picture

I don't think you're a bad person at all! I think you're being a good mother by putting your son first. It must have been very difficult to make the decision to live apart from your SO, but you did it for the good of your son and no one can fault you for that. You aren't selfish. Your SO's son is not your responsibility but your son is, and if you felt them being in the same house was detrimental, then good for you for getting your son (and yourself) out of a bad situation I don't blame you one bit. So don't sit there and beat yourself up. You tried and it didn't work out. Sometimes it doesn't. Better that you found that out now instead of after you married him.  I've never dealt with ADHD but I can imagine how difficult it is and there's no need to be a martyr for someone else's son. Hopefully his parents will learn better ways to deal with his issues or he may never be an independent person. 

PS Totally laughing at "I want my son to be an astronaut, not a chicken nugget."

Hairmoda's picture

he told me today that if after a year I still can’t see myself living with them then we will break up. I don’t think that’s fair and it bothers me. He’ll say things like “you’re kid makes wierd noises too and you’re kid doesn’t listen too” my response is “I agree however he is five and with the right routines I know it will change” I don’t want to continuously insult him but I don’t know how to say “you’re son is a problem” any more times with out him thinking I am evil and picking on his kid. I know it’s not his kids fault but let me tell you since they moved out I have not let my kid play video games and he legit is going to bed at 7 instead of 10 and his behaviour is so much better. I’m having a hard time letting go of someone who is amazing to me because his kid has a brain disorder.


i swear when my kid came downstairs singing a stupid nugget song I had a freak out and imagined him in a chicken costume as an adult and I lost my marbles.

notsofast's picture

That's not all because of adhd. That's a 13 year old who has been allowed to behave that way. Adhd can be managed.

He needs to parent his child. Kids with adhd need more structure and parents who don't just roll over when they throw a fit. Even adhd kids who learn they don't get their way by behaving badly knock it off and make different choices. 


The noises, the inattention is probably adhd. But the tantrums and fits may be more related to "why shouldn't I do what works?" 

Hairmoda's picture

ny partner often blames the adhd and I remind him that this isn’t just a brain disorder but in addition is a young teenager displaying normal young teenager poopheadness and blaming it on his brain will be the death of this boy. I told him “take the Xbox out of his room he’s sneaking it at night, don’t let him bring the iPad to school make him interact with people” I’m tired of parenting a parent I feel like I’m in bi**h constantly and it’s turninf me into a mean person.

Harry's picture

Doesn’t have to see what he doesn’t want to see.  Or do anything about it.  Why differents will a year make if SO doesn’t do anything ?  Maybe you too will put your head in the sand ?  You have to do best for your son. Have to do the right thing.

 It’s hard enough when SK are somewhat normal, but to deal with ADHD, and it’s sounds it’s more than that.  This kid should be tested.   It’s really going to strain your relationship,  and not fair to your son. 

elkclan's picture

For one thing - the chicken nugget song sounds fun. That's not a big deal. So really examine your own feelings and learn not to sweat the small stuff. We have boys 10-12 together and we sing Diggy Diggy Hole all the time. My partner is an academic scientist and I also work in an intellectual field. We have high aspirations for our kids and don't worry about them becoming a cartoon dwarves. And yes, all of the kids in our family are weird. Weirdy-weird. They'll be fine. 

However, it's not just small stuff that you're describing. There are serious mismatches in discipline and parenting approaches and your partner has his head in the sand over issues like limiting time on devices, adequate sleep and hygiene. Couples counselling defo. He is seriously messing up his kid's chances - this kid needs more routine, more discipline and more help in learning how to self-regulate. As an ADD kid raised by an ADD mom - well, I know how hard it is when your own head is all over the place and you don't have consistent parenting. 


Hairmoda's picture

But I don’t think that it’s the song it’s everything around the song. He watched this YouTube video for like two hours about a video game that was like virtually animated to simulate chicken nuggets and what may seem like a silly song is like an obsession for this kid. My kid wines and is a mammas boy and I am working on that but it’s very difficult when I have a teenage boy who acts just like him. Is it because I’m not used to it? It’s definitely different? It’s just if living together once didn’t work how will we make it work a second time?

elkclan's picture

Yeah, I get it. My son also watches ridiculous stuff too. 

Of course, your kid wines - he's little. I mean, that's ok, too. (Well, not ok, it's super annoying even when it's your own kid. But I think you know what I mean). 

I'm a new-ish step parent - been doing it for over a year, so yes, it takes getting used to. My stepkids act up. My son acts up. But my partner addresses act-ups in his kids and before we even set up household together we did a lot of talking about common parenting standards. By the way, I was the lax one! Maybe it's easier that way. But I tightened up and he loosened up where appropriate. 

Whether you can live together again successfully - I don't have any idea - but I don't think you can unless you get close to the same page and it doesn't sound like you're in the same book right now. 

Myss.Tique D'Off's picture

My exH was a good man and decent enough husband, but a terrible parent (is a mild descriptor).
It is not fair to describe someone like this as amazing, unless you mean that you are amazed at his sloppy, inability to raise a child properly. Then it is not amazing but a tragedy.
We should not get to seperate out the parts we like about our partners, yet blame or resent their children for what is obvious failings on the parenting part of their lives. Some times that bad behaviour we see in our minor children / step children is a direct reflection of the job (or lack there of)  we do as parents.

My situation was similar to yours in some respects. I was very concerned about the horrid influence my stepson had on my biological son. (They are now 18 and 13 respectively.)  In reading your post, this is not only an ADHD influence - you can probably medicate that to reasonable levels of "normalcy". (Please excuse the lack of tactful language.) Your stepson has learned and patterned behavioural issues - whether he has ADHD or not. The ADHD is an excuse to not deal with the underlying learned behavioural problems - problems for which there have been no consequences or proper parental corrective direction.

You can discuss this with your partner - and set the necessary corrective action. Some things are not negotiable - at all. Both my SS and BS know that teeth and hair are brushed in the morning - at night again for teeth. Shower and hair washing happens at least once a day - they can choose morning or evening.  It is a normal habit for them that comes from expectations that were set years ago.
"You do it because I said so." Very seldom have I taken this stance with my boys, but certain things are just not negotiable - including hygiene or food/snacks in rooms overnight. Doesn't happen. House hygiene rule. End of story. Step out of line and there are consequences. Some parenting aspects are not discussed or negotiated with the kids - they are ordered.

Children need to know what your rules, boundaries and expectations are - and they need to be consistently applied. It is extremely hard when  you and your partner have different expectations and rules for your bio and step children. In my case, it couldn't work. I had to parent my own son, set rules and expecations, I disciplined my son. My stepson? Ran wild, no rules, manipulated Dadddeeee, did as he pleased. My husband couldn't - rather wouldn't - see the damage this was doing. And that is why he is my EX husband.   

You and your partner need to get on same page with the expectations for your children. If  you can not, do not subject your child to the feral behaviour of someone else's failed parenting. Eventually your own child will see you abiding by that poor double standard.

I doubt it is a case of your kid is better or that you are better. I never felt that way either. However, you DO KNOW better. That is the difference. Make it (the difference)  or break it (the relationship).
(I did both... Divorced my husband, kept his child - who now actually is far far better behaved without his Dad's influence than I could ever imagine. Stepson lives  with me under my rules, and I am no indulgent Dadddeeee  with divorce guilt... My stepson is actually a decent young man who is doing well at college - no thanks to Daddy.)

Letti.R's picture

Why wait a year?
Why waste your time trying to accept the unacceptable?
This man is showing you who he is now.
You already see and feel the red flags.

The Xbox and video games are parent to his son.
When you point out issues with his child, he deflects and points out what is wrong with your child rather than address your concerns about his child.
He uses ADHD as the reason when he is a poor parent.
Ugh no.

You sound like a reasonably concerned Mom.
You did the right thing to not have your child influenced by your SS and your SO's low expecations for him.
Move on.
This guy is Mr Right Now, not Mr Right.

SteppedOut's picture


Nothing is going to change in a year. Cut your losses now.

Lol @ him comparing his 13 yr old to a 5 yr old. Been there. My formerSO would compare our 1 yr old to his horribly behaved 13 yr old. The sad part is, my 1 yr old actually had better table manners, picked up his toys and listened. He *tried to hold our son more "accountable" for things than his 13 yr old. YES REALLY. It sounds insane, but true. God it sounds insane! I am willing to bet if this has not happened for you, it will. I think its a lame attempt at making their child "look better".

Seriously, don't wait for him to end it in a year. Do you really feel like your feelings about tolerating his crap and poorly influencing your son will change? No? YOU end it now. 


Maxwell09's picture

My skid has ADHD and most of what you listed is just normal teenager behavior. The inability to focus is usually chalked up to adhd but the hyper focus on video games is also just boys being boys in this world. He’s inability to be social is probably more attributed to his fixation on gaming instead of interacting with friends in the real world. Kids won’t have social cues if they’re never in a situation to practice them with peers. So many parents use adhd/add/odd/etc as a cover for just bad and lazy parenting. I would know, I’m dealing with one (BM). It’s so easy for them to let them sit in front of the tv instead of having to deal with their child. 

The problem is not your skid but his parent. You need to redirect your frustration on to your DH for failing his son and see him for what he’s doing then decide if that is who you want to be with for the rest of your life. He is not likely to change. He is likely to let his kid game his way through his learning years then fake shock when the kid fails to launch and sit in his basement for the next 30 years. You have options: call your dh out on it and see if he will change his parenting or don’t and decide if you’ll stay or go. You can’t expect a kid without proper tools (parents who care) to develop like yours. Stop comparing your kid to his and stop letting people insinuate adhd is some type of crippling disease. It’s basically just his brain is moving to fast for him to keep up...which is why visual graphics in virtual reality holds their attention because it’s extremely fast paced. The kid would be fine if he had a bio that parented him. 

New_to_this's picture

My skid is 14 and has ADHD as well, plus other mental disorders. I also have a 3 year old with my husband and another on the way. SS14 is a nightmare to deal with and DH enables him. My DH also compares SS with DS which is crazy, since DS is 11 years younger than him. Plus, DS actually has more household chores than SS. DS will push in his chair and clean up after himself when he makes a mess at dinner - that's way more than SS does. It's sad and completely DH's fault.

I don't think your situation is going to get better. It will only get worse, especially if you also have an enabling husband, a useless BM, and you are disengaged. Plus, teenage years are the worst! You seemed to have already moved out and you don't have your own children with him, so you don't have to worry about a continued relationship between your child and your stepchild. It might be the best thing to end the relationship. Even if you think he's great now, you'll probably end up resenting him due to his poor parenting.