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Long-dead bio mother & her atrocious genes

BanksiaRose's picture

Hello, everyone, I'm so pleased I came across this forum. I've been stressing out privately, because the topic is somewhat delicate, LOL, but the fact that my mind gravitates back to this topic tells me that I need to get it out and get some support. 

I've been with my boyfriend for a couple of years, we match on every level, except for the fact that he has kids and a dead ex, and I do not have either. I have never wanted my own kids, he doesn't want more kids, I dreamt of adoption or a widower with kids, so this should be a perfect situation, and if it wasn't for the kids' outrageous behavior, it totally would be. My BF is the first to admit it. He's also a very anxious person (privately, you wouldn't guess it at work or socially) and constantly worries I'll dump him over the kids' behavior.

 We want to get married, but the kids' behavior must get under control first, as it adds enormous strain on our relationship. We have planned weekends on our own, which helps a lot, but we can both see how things could fall apart very easily with having to manage constant aggression and violence between kids. I have history of trauma and do not deal with violence well. Also, I've worked very hard to have my lovely home and I'm not about to have it smashed up by some crazy dead woman's kids, who kick soccer balls inside, scrape their toys on walls all day long, eat with fingers only (including things like whipped cream) and then run them on furniture - that's in their own home, not mine.  BF is always on a lookout and makes them stop, but they make sure to repeat those behaviors several times before they actually do. And the damage is already done then. 

The kids are tweens, and they do have moments of genuine kindness, I feel like my connection with them is growing, one loves cuddles, the other one - chats about important things like friends, various relationships etc. They fight with each other and BF bitterly and relentlessly, BF's and my time with them is spent constantly being two steps ahead trying to prevent or to break up a fight and/or property damage. His house in an upmarket area of the city is trashed and despite all the expensive items he had invested in looks like ghetto. However, even at their most escalated, the kids have never been rude to me or attempted to hurt me in any way (physically or emotionally). I'm also very impressed about how socially conscious they are, and couldn't imagine them ever saying/doing something to hurt a girl/woman, a minority or social disadvantaged group member. This gives me much-needed hope. 

They treat their father like crap though, and he was  waiting on them hand and foot until I had a very serious conversation, and he seems to have taken it on board, slowly implementing the specific changes I asked. This also gives me a lot of hope, as I was terrified bringing this big conversation up, expecting defensiveness, push-back etc., based on my past relationship with an awful partner.

They have a variety of other behavioral, sensory and food issues, which my BF thought he is just condemned to tolerate until grow up. I'm a physician, and now that I've got to see the full scale of them, I suspect ASD, ADHD, ODD and possibly a few other things. We're finally taking them for formal assessments, but that takes time. My hope is medication, because no amount of structure/nurture/punishment/reward works. They'll cut their nose off to spite their face on a daily basis.

The thing that makes me most mad is their mother who has been long dead now. My BF is a very gentle and respectful person, and wouldn't talk badly about anyone at all, including her, but I've managed to piece various bits of info together - it wasn't difficult - and the whole story with her sounds like a disaster that was coming with red flags waving, like a communist parade, and he ignored all of it. I can't say any of that to him, since we don't speak ill of the dead, LOL, and also because it won't change anything now. 

The prehistory is that although my BF is quite high up in the corporate world now, he hasn't always had the confidence that came with age. At work he's the big boss and in relationships with women he's been a terrified boy scared of abandonment. Which is not unusual, I have seen that In both genders many times. 

He grew up with bothers only, went to a boys' school, was scared of girls, they didn't have much interest in him either, his sex-life was mostly non-existent until he met his late wife at almost 30. By this point, he already had a fantastic career, which is especially amazing given that he came from less than nothing. He he had multiple interests, was well-traveled, participated in several sports and had a small, but steady group of friends.

She, on the other hand, also close to 30, still lived in her parents' house paid for by welfare. Her family were a genetic pool of severe mental/developmental disorders, which have contributed to their excessive sense of entitlement. Her mother never worked, and her father had found a way to stop working in his 40s claiming some made up work-related injuries. He also has paranoid schizophrenia that's supposedly medicated, but to my eye he displays very clear symptoms still - he has weird hangups about phones stealing his photos, and never allows his wife (who also doesn't drive) or son leave his side (except when he attends his disability services).  

She also had an adult brother with severe mental retardation, that is genetic living there. The woman herself had a rare genetic disorder which meant that she had to spend hours on a daily basis hooked onto machines to survive, and many people with this disorder don't live past infancy, 27 is a pretty good number, 30 is a dream and 40 is definitely the longest life expectancy for a small minority, but that also means multiple hospital admissions every year. Between daily and hospital treatments they look just like the next person, but must have meds within reach at a vet specific temperature at all times. Sad story so far, right? 

Except that she got herself a menial job in a hospital, and along with the gift of the gab managed to present herself as some sort of expert or a physician who was going to defy all those stats above and live to old age, that no one with her disease had done. I understand the naive hope against hope, being an actual physician myself, but not where it's presented as expertise/fact/prognosis, which is what she did to my BF.  

As I said before, he'll believe anything that a woman he loves tells him, especially if she speaks with confidence, especially if it's about health matters that he has no clue about (evidenced by his cluelessness about his kids very apparently disordered behaviour and diagnoses that will very likely be given to them). 

I understand that she had no interests or hobbies of any kind, and made her disease her personality. The few friends she had were hospital staff she worked with for a few years until she met my BF and clearly saw her opportunity for a nurse and a purse in one. This meant that his life as a normal person was over - they couldn't leave the state, let alone go on holidays in another country due to her daily treatments, the machinery she had to be hooked on, the  refrigerated meds she always had to have on standby and so on. Unfortunately for him, he has a rescuer complex, AND he wanted to be in a relationship, AND there was a promise of sex that he only must have had a handful of times before they met, so they got married. She moved out of her parents/welfare housing straight to his house, everything paid for by him, and a very different lifestyle. When she was already past her life expectancy (mid 30s), she got him to pay for IVF and produced two offspring. According to her, she expected to live until they were in their late teens, and she convinced my BF that a few standard tests will identify if any of her immediate family's disorders are passed on, and if something sneaks past, "they'll love their kids anyway, right, honey?". Except that she knew that love is not enough when the family have a severely behavior-disordered kid with lifelong physical and mental disabilities. And the thought that she was ok to put kids through trauma of losing their mother in their teens to a degenerative disease, while leaving husband to cope on his own as long as she gets to experience motherhood, gives me shudders.

There were so many signs to NOT reproduce - her disease results in infertility for a good reason, because that gene gets passed on very easily. I won't go into detail about high-risk pregnancies and the traumatic birth both kids had. The long and the short of it is that both of their aggressive/impulsive behaviors are likely to be the result of lack of oxygen to the brain at birth. 

Also, she knew well that they could still very well have severe autism and ADHD/conduct issues based on the genetic disorders both of her parents and her were carriers for, and her brother actually has the most severe form of, none of which show up on prenatal genetic tests. Anyway, the kids had significant behaviour issues from birth. 

Also, because of her ongoing treatments and "need for rest", she never actually did any parenting. By then she had stopped working and had the bedroom to herself as to not get disturbed by the kids. My BF was working in his high-flying corporate job during the day, while doing night feeds, rocking the babies etc at night in the kids bedroom he had to move into. I have no idea how he managed to keep that job without sleep to support all of them.

 When the excitement of having babies and all this attention on her wore off (ohhh, look, isn't she brave? How wonderful that even with her disease she managed to become a mom!), she decided to manufacture some chaos by constantly accusing my BF that he "must be cheating at work", where he would be spending the normal office hours while she was bored at home. She created enough chaos threatening to leave him and take the kids (where would she have gone? who would have done all the hard parenting bits?) and demanded he changes jobs, also isolated him from all of his friends. He did that, and she was still unhappy. From subtle little signs I picked up on, I understood that she never really liked sex or physical affection, was generally abrasive, so I figure that my BF ended up with a pretty raw deal there, which he came to regret, but was going to "stick it out", because he's a man of duty, and his whole identity is about doing the right thing no matter what. 

Ironically, she was happy again when doctors told her that she had a few months left to live. That was when the kids were toddlers. My BF says that "we had a really good marriage then", to which I don't have the heart to say that because once again it was all about her. 

Disturbingly, the kids did not seem to want to engage with her other than a play partner/treat provider, and seemed to show no distress at her deterioration, avoiding her altogether and fighting amongst themselves over toys and treats instead. I'm not sure what to make of this - whether that is indicative of their callousness or just lack of relationship with the parent that was absent from all important events like soothing them at night, feeding them and cradling then when they were scared. They have photos of her and talk about her frequently now, but it seems to have little to do with the actual memories and sounds more like they're discussing a fantasy mother they imagine they had that would let them do everything that dad doesn't allow, like playing computer games all day instead of going to school and naive childish fantasies. I am happy to listen to them, as their faces seem to light up, and I think every child deserves to believe they were loved by their parents, and also that their parents were good people, because if we believe they were faulty/bad, then that makes us faulty/bad. 

On her death bed, she also insisted that my BF does not bring another woman home and that "there's enough research showing that you could be a good father on your own". I also don't have the heart to tell him that this sounded as manipulative and as selfish as the rest of her existence. He did stick to single parenting for a good few years until we met. He aged so much in these few years also - the  differences in pictures are heartbreaking. 

Her parents are also present in our lives, and while friendly, they give off very creepy vibes, their house is squalor, yet they always have some very extravagant and expensive pets that are also unpredictable and dangerous. The kids love these grandparents, since they impose no boundaries, which means that weekends at theirs are all computer games and endless sugar. We put up with this, because that's our main opportunity to go away by ourselves. 

I can see how my BF is slowly coming out of his trauma, he's starting to question whether some of the treatment he received from her was actually not ok. I can see him being so excited at things in our relationship that in my view are just normal kindness and affection, which is both endearing and heartbreaking. His friends that she alienated are slowly coming back, so are his hobbies and interests. I am hopeful about this, and I really needed to get this off my chest. When I see the kids' relentless destruction and aggression, I almost wish she was alive so that I could give her a good shake. 

Thanks for allowing me to rant and apologies for any typos.



ESMOD's picture

Clearly these kids are way past the point of needing intervention.  I'm a little shocked that their schools hadn't made some suggestions if their behavior is "that bad".

While you are a physician, I'm not sure if you would necessarily be qualified or appropriate to step in and assist, diagnose or give advice regarding their issues.  You are too close.. and your training may not be that applicable here.

So.. they NEED to see specialists.. they likely have a combination of issues that could stem from natural tendencies.. but also from environmental situaions.. like having a terminally ill mother.. losing their mother at a young age.. and having a father that may not have been equipped to parent well.

That is really all.. of course standards of behavior are vital.. but it sounds like they have been allowed to go feral for so long.. whether it was that they were indulged.. or ignored in the home.. your SO needs to get this sorted.. and you may want to reserve judgement and deciding whether you want him as life partner to see how it goes.. because obviously.. if they are like this now.. do you see them being able to leave home at 18?

Rumplestiltskin's picture

Sounds like the skids had that bad combo of being both indulged (by dad) and ignored (by mom, whether or not she could help it.) Plus genetic issues - yeesh. I see not much mention of consequences when they act out or speak poorly to their father. That's a concern. He probably needs parenting therapy. I can see the appeal of indulging them after their mom died but it did them no favors. Plus it sounds like he has a rescuer complex. That doesn't lend itself to establishing boundaries. How are they at school? If their behavior is good at school, likely the problem isn't an organic brain disease or mental illness. These kids should have been in therapy since birth, with a mom too ill to care for them. It's hard (maybe impossible) at this age to turn this around. Their core personalities are set. It will take a lot (therapeutic boarding school maybe, or intensive outpatient therapy if they even have that for kids) to turn this around. 

BanksiaRose's picture

They have issues with focusing and following instructions properly at school, but there they're not oppositional, nor aggressive. despite their aforementioned issues, they're actually in classes for gifted kids. One of them has recently lost his place, because he genuinely can't focus anymore, apparently gets a complete blank when asked a question, especially under testing conditions, including if it's about the topic that he knows really well otherwise.

 They're different age groups and in different classes, so none of the feral behaviors occur. They only occur in relation to each other and to their father. They are well liked by their friends and teachers. When I get them 1:1, they're  helpful and kind (somewhat, the distractability is through the roof), and we have some good conversations. It's just when they're at home or with my BF (which is a lot outside school hours), they get possessed by some demons.

The consequences that seem to have any kind of effect is losing computer time, but even that does little. When they get into their aggressive moods, nothing seems to work. One of them gets into weird loops where he can repeat the sentence (e.g. "I hate you, moron") for up to half an hour and running around the house playing with light switches at night if he's given a punishment. That makes me think of ASD, because regardless of how pissed the kid would be, no one would have this amount of patience. He's also gotten in similar loops when his computer game didn't work straight away, and it was bizarre to watch. My BF has just thrown him into his bedroom in the first instance, because it was disruptive for the rest of us. But ultimately, no punishment has any effect. The older one makes up stories that are very easy to check, and some of them just don't make sense, about how he's been hospitalised for having a black eye his father gave him the other week etc. etc. He keeps making threats he will take those stories to the police, to which my BF says: "do it", and then he pipes down, but it's still a scary trajectory.



 And you're certainly right about me not being well placed to treat them. My field is also very different from developmental disorders. In this instance I'm just doing what a normal person would do - getting recommendations for specialists, and my BF is organising, attending appointments etc. 

They did go to therapy before and after their mother's death. Apparently, the therapist was lovely, but at least one of them refused to engage, even after a block of sessions. I spoke to them about doing it again, but with a different therapist - they're not opposed to it, and their physician is about to prescribe ADHD meds, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed for this. 

My BF can be a major people pleaser, so no doubt he indulged them in every way, while they treated him very badly. I addressed this as soon as I saw it, and he took it very seriously, so no more indulgence occurs, and they don't seem to mind it, both of which give me hope. I made a list of changes of what I want to see (including him not oscillating between being a doormat to them and yelling), and he's following it consistently. But the kids' behaviours aren't going to change overnight, especially if they have a neurobiological basis. 


Rumplestiltskin's picture

Idk, the fact that none of the especially bad behaviors you describe happen at school is an important data point. They spend the majority of their waking hours there. Has the school ever put them in special classes for developmentally delayed or behavior disordered kids? Has the school ever called dad in and demanded he have them evaluated for behavior disorders? No doubt they probably have some genetic issues as well as having suffered trauma. But - the violence and screaming - if they can keep from doing it at school they can keep from doing it at home. Do not let love blinders keep you from seeing the "training" they have had at home. Their dad may be the one who needs therapy, however well-meaning he is. 

BanksiaRose's picture

Thank you, I really hope you're right. I'd much rather behavioural than neurobiological issues. I was not exactly the most obedient child (but nothing like this), and I seem to have turned out ok in the end. These kids and dad clearly need support. I will try and get him into therapy also. He's quite private and I'm the first person he's ever opened up to about the marital issues he's had as well as about grief he went through, so at the very least he needs to process that with a professional, not me. Plus parenting strategies.  

The school never needed to put them in any support classes. They keep getting various awards there, and when my BF asked for some ADHD screening from the school counsellor, they said that his kids are definitely not a priority. 

Rags's picture

he is a shit parent and a shit partner.

Do not jump into the effluent of this shallow and polluted genetic cesspool.  Dead BM is not the only one with shit genes in this nightmare.

Have more respect for yourself.

There are men out there who are widowed, who ,do not have shit children , and who are well enough in touch with reality to not tolerate what this guy bought into hook, line, and sinker with his shit storm of dead wife.

Take care of you.

BanksiaRose's picture

Thank you, that is also a point worth considering...


I thought more of what you've said. What came to mind was:

- He has been making the specific changes I've asked in terms of parenting. The kids obviously don't like the new order, but on the other hand I also see them liking some of those new boundaries and behaving way better, at least when I'm around. 
- He said that my relationship with him (and his sanity) are worth the hard work. I have seen no pushback or cutting corners from him when implementing these long overdue boundaries. He's doing well. 
- You're right about him buying into that gene cesspool hook, line and sinker, and having no self-worth. I can also remember myself in a very abusive relationship in my early 20s. When I reflect on it I can't believe what I tolerated and the degradation I accepted. And I didn't leave him - he left me after 5 years. He used to do that as a means of control, but this one time I went with it and refused to have him back. It took me years to actually recognise that it was sexual, financial, emotional and physical abuse, even though it was clear cut to everyone else. Luckily for me, he left me, and luckily for me he didn't want kids. Had he pushed for kids, I would have agreed, because I allowed these years of abuse to strip me of any self respect and sense of self. So I can't really judge my BF for finding himself in a similar predicament, but with lasting consequences. My loss was mostly financial, plus emotional damage that cost me a lot in time and money in therapy for some years, but that's some decades ago now. 
In my BF's case, I'm hesitant to call it intimate partner abuse, but perhaps that's due to my internalised preconceptions that men don't experience domestic abuse?..

The main thing to decide on now is whether I can take on and share his consequences. I'll see how medications and therapy work and will decide then. With meds, we should be able to see within a week or two. 

Rags's picture

it was 2.5yrs.  Though it cost me a year+ of engagement and 4-ish years of post divorce recovery.

My XW had a dating problem. Because of my upbringing I was not one to divorce. Fortunately, she filed when she got knocked up by her geriatric Fortune 500  executive sugar/baby daddy. She met him giving sponge baths during the post surgical rotation in her BSN program.  I dodged the tragedy of polluting my gene pool with her. So the divorce hearing was pretty much the end of her pollution of my life.

I pride myself in having learned from that nightmare, reconnected with the man I like being, and commited to myself that I would learn from that experience and not subvert myself to toxic people.  I did go through a period before meeting my XW and after the divorce where I went through a series of rescue project partners.  Fortunately I had learned that rescue projects are not conducive to me living well.

I have been able to build a great life for myself and blessedly my DW and I have been able to build a life of adventure and a love for the ages together.  So far at least. 29+ years and our future is looking pretty good so far.

Please be wary of undermining your life for a rescue project.

BanksiaRose's picture

I'm really pleased to hear things worked out well for you. And also pleased to hear this advice from a man. When I talk to women, they usually stick up for other women, which is fine in a general sense, but not when things reach insane level. When I tried to bring this up very gingerly with women before, I got shot down immediately, as supposedly every woman deserves to experience motherhood even on her death bed, and somehow I was just jealous (of what specifically??). 
On the other hand, men also back each other up, so generally I'd expect some sort of excuses for him, and that I should just toughen up or leave. 
People also somehow perceived that I hated the kids or my BF (not even remotely true), so it's refreshing to get a more nuanced perspective, especially with a happy ending attached to it. 

I'll keep thinking about what you've said, thank you.

Exjuliemccoy's picture

Welcome. You sound like an intelligent and capable woman, and it's great that you're seeking input on a site whose members have dealt with a lot of dysfunctional step dynamics.You'll get unvarnished truth here

I'm a big proponent of thoroughly vetting single parents, and ESPECIALLY of considering genetic predispositions. There are so many stories here where mental illness and/or generational trauma play a role, my own included. You've given us useful info about BM's background, but I'm curious to learn more about your boyfriend's as he also has a host of issues. What is his family of origin like? What shaped him into someone who would fall for someone like BM? Radical honesty is your friend here, and while BM is indeed horrible, it's only fair to note that his parenting has been substandard, too. 

You're up against a pretty tall and unstable pile of baggage and culture clash, especially since your bf continues to allow people like his former inlaws to have influence over his kids. You can't separate the meh parent from the man - kids are forever, and ones like this seldom launch successfully. You can't save him, or fix this failed genetic experiment. Your good example won't be enough to effect change, and any attempts your bf makes to parent up will likely be blamed on you as well.

Please, PLEASE go very slowly. You need to have hard limits and high expectations, because YOU are the catch here. Date this man if you must, but keep your own peaceful home and a critical eye on how he handles his domestic issues. Just because he married beneath him doesn't mean you should.



BanksiaRose's picture

Thank you, I appreciate unvarnished truth. The boyfriend's family are a bit of a puzzle, since they seem to be very warm, normal people. His parents had simple jobs, but pushed all their sons forward, and all graduated with good university degrees, have fulfilling jobs, married lovely women, their kids are also very normal, social happy-go-lucky kids, who do well academically and socially. 

The only thing I can think of is that perhaps as a  child of a large sibling group he got less attention than he needed. He told me about some physical bullying he endured in high school for years, and never told any adults, because he didn't believe they could help. So that's probably quite telling that he saw his parents/teachers as ineffective at best, neglectful at worst. In my view, he was over involved with his kids, providing constant entertainment until I asked him to scale back. Quite clearly, he was making up for something he felt was missing for him as a child.

But I don't get that sense from his parents, who are also very involved with his kids and all other grandkids. 
I feel like he inherited their temper. His parents are also rescuers, putting the needs of everyone else before their own. At first he let his wife walk all over him in exchange for a bit of affection, and then his kids have been doing the same. 
When he married the BM, and her health began deteriorating as expected, the BF's parents  sold their  retirement house they bought in a lovely seaside town and moved to an ugly retirement apartment in an ugly part of town to take some load off him. He still feels guilty about that, because they can no longer afford that or another seaside town. I understand that the BM saw that as her birthright and didn't even thank them for that. 

I think my BF and his extended family are lovely people, but with too much unbridled empathy that comes at a huge cost to them. He has also said that on reflection and with the knowledge he has now, he wouldn't accept that deal, if he could go back. 
As for me, he has a very kind heart and is very attentive to me and my needs/requests. The difference is that I'm not coming from that entitled place that BM had. 

And I'm certainly keeping my home to myself. We both spoke openly about that, he was the first one who voiced his worries about our relationship being ended by his kids' behaviors and also by them potentially smashing up my house.

SteppedOut's picture


These kids are too old to make personality/behavior changes without MAJOR struggle... and even then it probably won't happen.

Love isn't enough to fix it. You deserve to be happy (and in love) without extensive baggage, therapy, stress, destruction, and general worry. Constantly having to "what if" takes a bigger toll than one can imagine.

Harry's picture

From the mother.  It's not going away.  They need professionals help.  Most likely medication ..and someone to drive that train of DR to other DR. TO Medication, of actual taking said medication.   
You , sorry to say,  should really think about . Your life, now in 10  20. 30 years. Maybe it's time to cut and run.   Things are not going to change SO can't even admit there's a problem.  He will never ,,even when he paying those lawers. For getting his kids out of jail  there's a problem.

la_dulce_vida's picture

Even if the kids have developmental delays, this situatoin is made more complex by the loss of their mother and poor parenting by the father. I have adult children with developmental delays and they needed discipline and routine even more than a neurotypical child.

And these issues will not go away at age 18. If you marry this man, you will likely be dealing with this for the rest of your lives together.