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Is this normal??

EmiB86's picture

Im new to this forum so bare with me. 

Is it normal to hate your stepchild? Completely? I feel like a horrible person. My SS is high functioning Autistic compounded with ADHD. He is almost 13 and I have been in his life since he was 10 months old. Obviously I knew what I was in for but his mother did not get his diagnosis until he was 7! In which I took part in because she is just like him and can't do things on her own. 

Once I got pregnant and had my own child these hateful feelings for my SS just got worse. I literally can't stand him and dread the weeks he is over at our house. I love my husband and I know that I should love my SS but I dont and I dont think I ever will. 

My SS can not do anything for himself. He has to have constant reminders and pretty much relies on his mother to do EVERYTHING for him. Its beyond frustrating. I hate his mother. She has not helped him one bit. She focuses more on his education then he actual mental needs. Maybe its my hate for her that extends to him. I dont know. I just know that he frustates me and I hate that he cant do anything for himself. My poor husband is at his wits end. We dont want full custody of him. We are happy with 50/50. With the rate that BM is going with SS, he will never live alone. He will need constant care for the rest of his life. 

Please dont say to cut my losses and head out. I have been with my husband for 12 years and that is not what I want to do. I will not give up a prefectly good marriage and relationship because of this. That is just insane. 

I merely want to know if anyone else feels this way about their stepchild? And does the thought of them turning 18 make you jump for freaking joy? 

Rags's picture

Some kids are easier to love than others. 

I wouldn't call  your feelings normal but neither would I call them unusual.  SParenting is a challenge. This is one of the challenges.

As for loving someone.  Love is not a feeling it is action.  Take the actions of love and the feelings grow.  I had to do this with my own SS when his mom and I first started dating and married. We met when he was 15mos old and married the week before he turned 2yo.

I refer to that period as my visceral rejection period.  Think of an Animal Planet special o n Lions.  Male lions kill the young cubs of their predecessor to free up resources for their own progeny and to initiate estrus in the lionesses in the pride. Fortunately we are human and not lions. 

So, to overcome the visceral rejection feelings I had at that time I started engaging with the kid.  His mom and I walked holding his hands between us swinging him and we all laughed. I chased him through McD's play scapes, we chased ducks together on the golf course outside of my brides apartment, we went on 4x4 trips to see cool stuff.  As I took the actions, the feelings grew.

This is not my original idea. It is part of Covey's book THE SEVEN HABITS OF HIGHLY EFFECTIVE PEOPLE.  In the book Covey recounts a discussion he had with one of his students during a break at a seminar he was leading.  The man approached him and said "I don't love my wife". Covey's answer was "So love her."  He went on to explain the love is action, action grows the feelings relationship.

It worked like a champ for me with my kid and also about a year after I remarried a single teen mom I applied the same methodology to improve the connection with my incredible bride. I have been doing it ever since.  We have a great time together, I love her infinitely and we have raised a great man together.  SS-26, my bride and I are extremely close. His mom and I recently celebrated our 24th anniversary.

Give it a try.  Start with something simple and build from there.

Good luck.

catmiao's picture

Just my opinion..

Although I do like the idea of "Love is action," I think apply that to ASD stepkids it might cause huge disappointment. Normal relationship requires gives and takes. You give some and you take some. Relationships to ASD kids are more like you give and give and give and many times you don't even get a thanks. (It is not necessarily that they are acting like an a-hole, it could just be that it never came to their minds that a thank you is a nice gesture to show appreciation)

I don't want to list out all the things I have done for my SS. My problem is that the more I do, the less I feel close to him.

Love being an action requires two parties to take part. :/ I am pretty certain the same principal done on a narcissistic partner will also NOT yield good results XD (Example would be my DH and his EX GF).

But anyway, you are a great stepdad to take part in the child's life! Kudos to you!


Rags's picture

The converse element to love is action IMHO and is the application of escalting age appropriate consequences for deviation from reasonble standards of behavior.

The actions of love are in large part dependent on acceptable behaviors from the party that is the target of the love action.

If they are not complying with reasonable standards of behavior the action of love applied to them is escalating age appropriate consequences that deliver an increasing level of abject misery until the sweet spot is reached that drives behavioral compliance.

The actions of love are not unconditional. They are behavior dependent.

IMHO of course.

As for being a great stepdad... .I just did things that made sense and that would invest in my marriage.

Thanks though.


tog redux's picture

Do you have to parent him? If so, maybe that should change and DH should take over all parenting. Or he should stay more with BM.

I don't know about "normal" but it's certainly understandable.  My SS18 is not special needs but his very existence has caused so much stress for me, and he adds nothing to my life - because of his mother. So maybe it's the situation you hate and not him.  But I totally get how you might wish you didn't have this burden to bear.

Evil3's picture

I loathed both of my SKs 29 and 27 for many, many years. I still despise my SD29. Both of the feral brats were Disney parented and coddled to the point of crippling. They couldn't do ANYTHING for themselves. Nothing was ever addressed with them and they were put on a pedestal and given way higher standing than me when I was the one who worked in a dangerous job and contributed financially to the brats' well-being. I did ALL of the cleaning and my SD shunned me in my own home for over 7 years while living with us full-time. She is 29 years old and still can't do a whole lot for herself. She was an off-the-charts mini-wife and tried her damndest to get me ousted from the family. She even wanted DH to prove his love for her by tossing me and our infant DD (now 18) out of the house and divorcing me. My DH was scared shitless of losing those two bloody things, especially SD. Do not make the mistake of counting down until your SS is 18. If he can't do anything for himself, he's not being raised properly and he won't be prepared to leave at 18. He won't be going anywhere. I had to take drastic action to not get stuck with my SKs forever. The reason Disney dads coddle their brats is so that dads can hang onto their kids forever. Sorry, but you'll have to lose your crap on your DH and/or get into family therapy so that your DH can learn how much he's damaging his own child all because he wants to live with him forever. Unfortunately, the Autism and ADHD can and will be used as excuses for why your SS can't be parented properly.

ESMOD's picture

The first order of business is that you can give yourself permission to not "love" your SS.  But, Rags has some really good advice.  Basically a fake it till you make it approach.  In a fundamental way, the boy can't help who he is..or who his mother is.  You do need to try to separate the issues that relate to his mother from him.  Yes, I know it's hard to not resent the fact that you have a child (special needs at that) in your life that you didn't ask for or create.  But, the child didn't ask for YOU to be in his life either..if you know what I mean.

So, can you treat him with kindness?  Can you drum up some empathy for his situation which certainly can't be easy with his issues..  Can you give yourself a break and not beat yourself up for not loving him?  Can his dad be the one who does the heavy lifting and can you come to a place of acceptance that your DH has this obligation.  Sure.. I have had bouts of jealousy or resentment over my DH's girls but in the end, they didn't ask to be in a back and forth situation either.  Ultimately to stay with my DH meant I had to find a way to make peace with the fact that he had kids and that they would always be in his life and that he had an EX and that he had financial obligations outside our home.  I didn't have to love it, but I did have to work on not dwelling on the "unfairness" or resentment of it.. because.. it's like that story about the two wolves good and evil.. which will win?  The one you feed.  So feed the wolf that is positive about your life.  Do as Rags says and act positively and that may turn into a mental positivity.  Maybe not Love.. but at least acceptance.

marblefawn's picture

...I hate my SD.

She's 31, soooo...I don't think you can count on age-related relief.

P.A.T's picture

I just want to let you know you are not the only one that feels the way you do and it is completely okay and understandable to feel that way. Love is not something that just happens and it can be hard if the child is not yours. It is also good to let yourself accept that you love people differently, it doesn't make you a bad person. I can completely relate to how you feel because I am still coming to terms about the resentment and I hate I feel towards my SS and if you ever need to vent I am here. It's is very hard to make yourself love someone but I do like the idea of Rags, it make sense but I know it can be very hard to do when you already have those feelings towards them set in, maybe it is worth a try.

MoominMama's picture

He may be AS but his parents have not helped him to reach his potential, especially the mother. It is too late now. Your DH should be dealing with him when he is at yours, this is HIS child and should be expecting him to do as much for himself as possible. 

Do Not whatever you do allow the BM to foist him off on you full time. It is a nightmare that never ends. Believe me I know. BM effed my ss up then gave him up and now tells everyone we turned him against her. Ain't that sweet? 

You do not have to leave your DH, only leave him to deal with his offspring. Get out, get away as much as you can and be thankful for the times he is not at yours. 


catmiao's picture

You are not alone (hug).

My SS11 is also high function on the spectrum (+ADHD). The only difference is that we have him full time. Even that, we remind him the phrase "My dad said..." is not to be used whenever he goes to his mom's. Whatever his mother told him to do, unless it will hurt him, just fking to it and don't argue. My SS has good understanding of how things plays differently in different households.

Good news is high functioning ASD kids are trainable. Yes it is hard but they can learn. (It's NOT a you said it once and the skill is retained situation) When I first met my SS he didn't even clean up after himself after a meal. Now he willl always put his dishes away whether we are around to monitor him. I get that this is such a small thing to celebrate, but thing learned is one thing learned. You will probably have to work with your DH to reform the "different house, different rules" principal. Yes it will be hard for your SS to adapt and it will take time especially you don't have him full-time. But it's better for him to learn that now than never. Because, guess what, once he's out of home he just have to play by the society's rules. So, "hard to do" is not an excuse for him to "not to do." It will take tremendous amount of energy of yours if your DH is not on the same page with you though.

I don't think I will ever love my SS, either. God I wish I could, I really do. The awful feeling of resenting a kid makes me feel I am a broken human being. But I am just going to accept that as a fact and be a bad Christsian from now on.



lylamorris's picture

Not here to judge anyone, coz only the person going through the fire can understand the pain. But that also doesn't mean your anger or hatred is fully justified, especially towards the kid. His mother may not have fulfilled her responsibilities properly but on humanitarian grounds what you can do the least, is just, don't hate that poor kid.

breedwitness's picture

Thank you for sharing your experience. Me in me throes of feeling of hate towards my partner's second child, I understand. I gravely disagree with lylamorris; if we feel hate, we feel hate. Denying what we feel is never a good idea. Our feelings might not be ideal, justified or something we wish to feel - yet we feel them. Authistic with ADHD. Hating stepkids is easy as it is but with mental disturbances inevitable unless one is enlightened. 

Is it our inner child that cries that no kid should be hated and always loved regardless because we wanted that to ourselves and in an ideal world adults are selfless? 

If you hate him, hate him. I believe in everyone there is a great willingess and wish to not hate anyone. But it won't go anywhere or transform til you allow yourself the darker emotions. Me being with a man with a mentally disturbed kid transformed my easy evoked judgements for all people. Some situations are simply beyond and too complex for other's rave about their wrongess or rightness.