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Kids choose — insight from my therapist

Hastings's picture

This should probably have been obvious, but it kind of helped me to have it spelled out.

I share stuff about our SS frustrations with my therapist (I struggled with some things a few years ago and find monthly "maintenance") helpful. Last time, she said kids can and should adjust to different rules at different places. It shouldn't be something, particularly for a kid who's nearly 13, that's too much to ask.

But, kids will choose which ethics, morals, etc., they will adopt. And they'll almost invariably choose the value system that suits them best. In this case, it's BM and her family. They expect nothing of him. She doesn't think it's a big deal if he lies or slacks off in school. If he wants something, he gets it -- immediately. These are successful, highly educated people who didn't see a problem with SS nearly flunking several classes last year because he wasn't turning in assignments. This year is better, largely because he dropped down to regular classes and isn't being challenged. Naturally, he's going to latch onto their "value system."

Anyway, I realized this, I guess, but hadn't heard it laid out in that way.

SS12 and BM are at Disney World this week (the real one), but he's going to have a rude awakening when he gets home. DH told him before he left that DH was going to go through his clothes to pull out anything too small. DH also decided to clean the bathroom. I heard a cuss word -- very loud. DH found a mound of clothes (some clean, some not, stuffed in the cabinet under the sink). Clean v dirty and proper care of clothes have been ongoing struggles.

A bit later, another shout. DH pulled clothes out of a drawer and found candy wrappers, ice cream sandwich wrapper (I knew there was one missing) and three drink cans (one half-full).

Before he comes back next weekend, DH is texting BM to tell her no electronics are to come to our house. He will not buy anymore drinks (he's been buying them for him to take to school), no ice cream bars and the Halloween candy is going on our high shelf in our closet. The next weekend, SS will spend Saturday cleaning his room top to bottom.

Like I told DH, SS just doesn't care. He tried to hide stuff this time, but he was stupid about it. He obviously has it firmly entrenched that he can and will do whatever he wants.

I wish I could like this kid. I just don't.


hereiam's picture

Yes, unfortunately, my SD (now 32) decided that what fit her best was to do nothing. I think that she is now starting to realize that she has just thrown her life away. It's not too late, DH tells her, but she is LAZY and will not do anything.

Everytime DH calls her and asks what she's doing, she says, "Cleaning." DH and I just laugh our asses off. We have been to several of her places of residences - the girl does NOT clean. 

When she used to come for visitation, I would make sure her room was spotless. When she was leaving, DH made her clean up any mess that she made and vacuum. She just couldn't understand why she had to do that. Apparently, she still doesn't understand why one needs to clean.

I do think she wishes she would have followed a different path and listened to DH more (and learned from his work ethic) but she is just too lazy to do anything about it, now. Not to mention, that her BM does everything she can to keep her down, as she doesn't want her daughter to do or be better than her. Sad.

PushedToMyLimit's picture

I am convinced my SS9 is a barnyard animal. His BM must be one as well because SO is a clean freak. These parents set the bar so low it should be embarrassing. Basic life skills are not accomplishments, not sure why we are complimenting a 9y/o for using silverware at the dinner table now, but here we are. Today's society is lazy & entitled and it isn't getting better because the parents are the ones driving it. These split families are an absolute nightmare. If our BM would just exit the picture this kid could maybe have a chance at a normal life but as of now, it's slipping. She is about 10% involved & that is mostly to manipulate & mentally abuse him, break promises & create more anxiety for him. She's a real gem!

NoWireCoatHangarsEVER's picture

She was in gifted and I sacrified a lot for her education.  Now she is in highschool and is more worried about boys and her social life and right now has 5 F's.  She has zero's and in easy classes like photojournalism.  She simply isn't turning in her assignments.  She has quit coming to my house completely.  WE are supposed to have 50/50 custody.  She stays at my ex husbands all the time now cause he's like your SS's BM.  She is supposed to be spending all Thanksgiving break catching up on all of her missing assignments and he let her have a sleepover last night.

I'm supposed to pay for her hair appointment Friday.  I've made it very clear I will cancel that appointment if those assignments aren't turned in.  F's are not acceptable to me.  I spent $800 for Mickey's Very Merry Xmas party on December 12th.  Guess who won't be going if she isn't turning in her work?  DD16!  I won't be buying her a car or paying for car insurance either with those grades.  

Hastings's picture

Good for you setting rules and expectations!

It's frustrating. SS12 is a smart kid. Very concrete and not terribly imaginative, but smart. Last year he was faking sick to stay home. This only happened at our house once. The second time, DH had the nurse send him back to class. But it kept happening at BM's and she and her parents (who sometimes pick him up) weren't making him stay on top of assignments. Guess what? He fell behind. Then he had sobbing fits about how it was too hard, so they let him drop out of all his advanced classes. (I would have made him keep one or two.) DH went along because he was sick of pushing molasses uphill.

This could impact him later because it's not like it's easy to go back to advanced later if he needs to for college. BM and her parents are still making noises about moving him to private school for high school but the only one DH would even half consider is way more academically demanding than where he is. He's in seventh grade and, from the curriculum, that school's fifth and sixth graders are about on par with where he is now.

No forethought. Ever. Just keep Precious Prince happy.

BM actually told DH "As long as it's not an F, it's ok. Middle school doesn't count anyway."

This is a high-level insurance company attorney. Daughter of a librarian and the retired dean of a prestigious law school. And that's their attitude on education?

Middle school doesn't go on your permanent record for college, but it dictates what classes you can take im high school. Not to mention developing good skills and habits. What, in 9th grade a light will just click on and he says "oh, I need to apply myself and try to make good grades." Morons.

AlmostGone834's picture

Exactly. Education builds on itself. Particularly math, science and English. If he doesn't have a solid foundation, he will struggle in high school. If he struggles in HS, he will struggle in college. The only way to fix it is to go back and do double the work catching up (which I doubt he would ever have the motivation to do).

notarelative's picture

If DH keeps talking about the need for good grades, there is still hope. It is still possible for things to turn around. I spent the middle school years with my youngest bio claiming -- "What does it matter? Whether you get a C or an A, you go to the next grade anyway."

Then sometime near the end of sophomore year, he had an epiphany and realized that the college he wanted to go to required better grades. Grades improved. He got into the college. Went to graduate school. And is successful in his profession.

PetSpoiler's picture

I can give a few examples.  One which is not the easy way and one which is.  My dad started out as an angry young man due to growing up with an emotionally abusive alcoholic father.  My grandma was the complete opposite.  Long story short, while he was on the road to being more like my grandfather, he turned his life around while he was still young and became  like my grandmother and her side of the family.  His three siblings also followed in my grandmother's footsteps.  

My SS grew up with a liar of a BM.  He came to live with me and my husband when he was 8.  He was regularly disciplined and given consequences for lying.  He knew lying was wrong.  Yet he grew up to be a liar.  He didn't completely follow in his mother's footsteps, but the lying is a problem.  He married a woman who is a worse liar than he and his mother.  She tells lies that pit people against each other.  I have no use for liars.  I cut those two out of my life and they are not allowed around my kids.  I don't want them to be an influence on them.  I fear that they would either turn my kids against us, mainly me, or they would tell lies to pit other family against my kids.  Or maybe they would do both.  I've seen a post on this very site where the skids turned their half-siblings against their stepmother, the half-siblings mother.  Why take the chance?  

Rags's picture

gets back from Disney.  I would also bale it all up in large garbage bags and dump it on Jr's bed then have daddy watch Jr sort every pit of it under the daddy hairy eyeball.

Do not lament that you cannot and do not like this kid. He does not earn it.  

As much as parents spout on about unconditional love, IMHO, that is complete and total bullshit.  Love is action, and it is not unconditional.  Feral spawn do not earn love and no matter how much the breeders that created and raise a feral ill behaved spawn claim that they love their spawn unconditionally, nope.

Hopefully Daddy stands on no electronics.  BM in all liklihood will try to weasle some electronics into the mix.

The SpermClan certainly did when we banned electronics from our home when SS was in 6th grade due to his screen zombie tendencies.  They would gift him the newest portable gaming sistem, GameBoy, GameBoy Color, Nintendo DS, etc, etc, .... As soon as SS would return home from SpermLand visitation, we would inspect all of his luggage and any electronics were confiscated and  locked up. We would give it to him as we drove to the airport to put him on a plane for his next visistation with the shallow and polluted end of his gene pool.

IMHO, there is no need to tell BM not to send any electronics. That is for daddy to enforce and communicate with his spawn.  Just take it when it shows up. Skippy needs to learn to keep that crap at his mommy's house.

Rags's picture

No. Parents raise kids with morals, standards of behavior, and standards of performance. Kids do not get to choose. 

Until they are no longer minors.

At which point they can choose, and the parent who raised them with morals and standards can keep rubbing the now kidults nose in the stench the kidult chooses create in their own life.  Though once the kid is a kidult, the parent has little ability to enforce standards. Though the parent can always smack the kid ult in the back of the head (figuratively of course) when the kidult chooses shit over quality as their character.

I know my perspective is very Boomer-esque, but, IMHO  and experience both as a kid and a parent, it works. Kids get no choice until they reach the age of majority. Even then, if they are on the parental payroll and/or residing in the parent's home... they do not get to choose.

Though quality parents rarely have to deal with this crap because quality parents raise quality progeny.

IMHO of course.

Hastings's picture

Absolutely, parents enforce standards on minor children. What she was saying was that all we can do is teach, enforce and set the right standards and expectations. Ultimately, when he grows up, it's up to him which path he takes. He has no choice now as far as what is expected of him. But when he grows up, it's up to him. Unfortunately, often children will gravitate to the standards and life view that gives them what they want and expects little. Sometimes they turn that around, seeing the value in the "harder" view. But, often, they don't. Especially if there's enabling going on.

Rags's picture


Not many people can effectively learn from their own experiences and mistakes. Even fewer can learn from the experiences and mistakes of others.

For some reason people tend to gravitate to the lowest common denominator they are exposed to.

My IL clan is like this nearly en masse.  My FIL and MIL were barely self supporting and had 4kids.  MIL and FIL claim to have raised their kids to make their own decisions and launch at 18.  BIL1, BIL2, and SIL all followed the example set by MIL and FIL.  DW is the only one who has any expectations for herself and for her child. DW is extremly intelligent, highly educated, and very successful.  The rest of them all barely, emphasis on barely, finished HS. Basically if there is only one bad decision out of countless decisions, they will make that bad decision.

I had hope for BIL1's kids. His eldest is an intelligent and very attractive young woman  who unfotunately has her parent's superiority complex ... who sadly has also gone down the poor decision road example set by her parents.  She has saddled herself with a barely able to fog a mirror intellect level trainwreck of a BF.  She is attractive enough to get some opportunities but her decisioning ends those opportunities pretty quickly. BIL1's youngest biodaughter is also extremely intelligent but not in the least bit attractive so her lippy superiority complex combined with a severe lack of attractiveness frightens me regarding her future. She is far more than intelligent enough to be successful. IF (note the big if) she can recognize that what her sister and her parents have done is not what she wants.

BIL2 is not able to support himself of his family. His wife is a cheating marginally employable worker.  His daughter isn't even his. She is a cheat baby that his wife spawned with a long term geriatric lover she has been seeing since she was in her teens.  The spawn daddy is a grandfather.  BIL2's daughter looks just like GrampaDaddy's same age granddaugter.   His dreams continually gut any chance of financial stability he may have.  He has a heart of gold, is truly a nice man, works his butt off, but.... choices.....

SIL, is a crook. Period. Dot.  Her two kids are complete assholes. Her DH was actually a reasonably successful guy... until he walked off of his 20yr career when he got his skivies in a twist that he was training new college graduates for roles he had worked his way through. His company was investing heavily in his development, he was a manager, and doing great. Until he got his sadly idiotic classist fee fees hurt.  He now earns just above minimum wage. SIL just found out today that the school district she is a teacher's aid for has a $multimillion budget short fall for 2024 and she will likely lose her job since she is the newest hire. With her DH now a low income worker rather than a middle income manager, they are screwed if she loses her job. 

I do like all of my ILs. I just do not respect them.  Sadly, neither does their daugter/sister and neither does their grandson/nephew.  




Hastings's picture

Always sad and frustrating to see.

BM's family are all successful and well-educated. Except her brother. He has a great education, but no longer uses it. The man is nearly 50 and has spent the last 7 years bouncing from one minimum-wage job to another while his parents supplement.

BM's mom has money. But the way they spend (redoing their house every couple of years, shelling out money to their kids and grandson, taking them on first-class vacations), they may follow the principle of spending it rather than saving to pass on. DH says they were constantly short of money when he was connected. (BM's mom's parents have died since then and left her money.)

DH and I are fortunate in that we could also be looking to inherit a decent amount of money in the future. But we are not counting on that. Things happen. Our financial planning does not take inheritance into account at all. It's solely based on our earnings and investments. We both work hard and are careful to save and invest.

Also, our trust is set up where SS will only get a portion of our estate (animal-rescue charities are getting a chunk) and won't be able to access any of it until he's 55. We're planning on spending a lot of it, though, as we love traveling.

Maybe he'll be fine. Maybe he'll actually start applying himself and do well. Maybe he'll inherit enough he won't have to worry. But if those things don't pan out, he could end up with a rude awakening.

Rags's picture

employer matching.  We actually have hit our retirement investment goals 8yrs early.  The problem is, the numleaber was calculated based on a 15 to 20 year retirement for me plus another 15 yrs for DW after my estimated expiration date.  Adding 8 year trims back the retirement lifestyle we planned on. So, we will keep chugging away at our careers for another 8 -ish years.

My parents are financially independent and we will likely inherrit  a bit. They have always made it clear that their estate will split down the middle between my brother and I.  Until the past couple of months.  They told me that the house goes to DW and me.  The rest splits.  Their reasoning is that my little brother is a C-suite highly successful executive and does not need a thing. Neither do we.  We have done very well, just not C-suite well. The house is important to my mom and she wants it to stay a home base.  For DW and I, it will.  It is a huge beautiful home. Though not my brother's taste. He buys very nice though modest for his income homes that are 3x the cost of mom and dad's house.

I intend to pay my brother half the value of the  house after the estate is settled.  But... he likely won't let me pay him.

We have never planned on or expected an inherritance. DW and I both prefer that mom and dad enjoy every Cent and skid into the Pearly Gates with the tires smoking, laughing, having enjoyed the race.

SS and I have a similar heir situation.  My parents were young when they had me (19 & 21).  DW was also young when she had SS (16).  DW's plan is to leave SS a notable inherritance.  But he won't get it until he is an AARP member in all likelihood.  SS and I will likely be the only residents in the retirement home with chores supervised by our mothers.

DW is the only person in her family with beyond a HS education.  Two of her cousins finished their Bachelor's degrees. One paternal side cousin (the one that passed a year ago) and one maternal side cousin.

DW's Aunt is fairly well off.  Her estate goes 50% to my MIL and 50% to her nieces/nephews (7 of them) including my DW.  If MIL passes before the aunt, it splits equally between 6 of the nieces/nephews. Because my SIL has ripped off the Aunt for shit tones of money (stolen credit card run ups, unpaid loans, stolen cars, etc...) she gets nothing.  Aunt asked DW to be the Executrix of her estate. As Executrix DW would have to sue her sister to recover the stolen assets for the other heirs.  DW and Aunt decided that the stolen assets would be SIL's share and she would get $Zero upon distribution of the estate. SIL has no idea and she will blow a sobbing, whining, cry fest gasket when she is sitting in the Lawyers office when the Will is read.

AlmostGone834's picture

Yes they choose which path to follow. 

DH encourages hard work, doing what's right, making good choices and fixing your mistakes.

BM encourages gaming the system, doing the bare minimum, lying to get what you want, and keeping up a fake facade to save face. 

Guess which path Little Idiot is following?