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How to handle duplicitous teen

tryingjusttrying's picture

My SS is very slick. I've seen him evolve from an impulsive, angry, vengeful, aggressive kid to a very savvy, smooth talking, and agreeable teen. I could swear that he sometimes observes people, including me, to acquire "acceptable" behaviors, while still doing underhanded things. I've seen him practice these behaviors. It makes me feel very uncomfortable. It was easier to manage when SS was an angry, aggressive kid. I could point to the behaviors that offended and my dh could palpably see the problem. But what if the teen covers well? Bio parents have blind spots like my dh, so the cover works so long as it is somewhat plausible.

Recently, SS decided that it was unnecessary to have to text me a head's up when he was coming over for the weekend for visitation. My dh works late, so I've been the only one here. He lived here with his dad before me, so he decided it was his house, so he could come and go when he wanted to without needing to alert me. His dad insisted, so he has been doing it, but he does the very minimum and only texts me when he's nearby, and very reluctantly. But added to that, SS decided to invite a friend over yesterday without asking or giving me a head's up. His dad was at work and knew about it, but he told SS to let me know if he was inviting a friend. SS was going to let me know last minute (minimum he could do without getting in trouble), but his friend showed up early before he could get around to it, so SS gave me the head's up as his friend was walking through the front door. I told dh about it, and dh called and told SS that his friend had to leave. That's the first time dh has really put his foot down on my behalf and I appreciated it. But that prompted SS to ask me to talk. He was pissed and thought I was an a**hole for texting his dad. He of course was very careful with his words, but the suggestion was that I was an outsider who had no right to expect the things that I did. I told him 'too bad'. We did make some progress by talking which we never do.

Here is the issue: dh is glad we hashed things out and thinks SS and I cleared the air. But though SS "bared his soul" and even claimed later to make concessions and promises, all of it is bulls**t. He says one thing and then does another. During the argument, I made sure to stick with my points because SS is very savvy and is good at diverting you and persuading you. But dh gives him a million chances just in case this time SS will come through, which I think is very optimistic. It makes the chances of SS actually coming through more likely, in my opinion. But because SS bared his soul and "saw the light", now DH thinks we're connecting more, and wants to bring us more together and make plans for more time together, etc. I think SS is just manipulating us into giving him more time here (which he prefers to his mom's for various reasons). If I resist, I'm going to seem to be the unkind, problematic one which might make him less supportive of me and my position. So how would you handle this? SS will superficially comply with what dh asks of him, which makes it harder for me to justify my discomfort around SS. But believe me, when dh is not home, SS still barely acknowledges me, and will respond with one word answers.

An example of SS being underhanded is he'll ask his dad if he can pick up lunch while he's out using dad's seamless acount. But then he'll buy all of his friends lunch without asking. He once did that to his mom for $150 which caused her to ban him from using her account. Dh would always give a second chance. And usually, SS will behave himself for a little while after getting in trouble. Memory fades, and then he'll do something else and get away with it. A year ago, SS held on to a credit card his dad gave him to get a hair cut. He then bought himself and his girlfriend lunches, snacks at the 7-11, etc. for a few weeks. It added up to say $50, which is not the worst, but still underhanded. Meanwhile, dh thought he misplaced his card and finally cancelled. When he realized SS had been using it all along, he confronted him. SS defended himself by saying, "you gave it to me to use." SS has done even worst as a kid. But you see, he learns to act compliant, so he probably won't use dh's card again like that again, at least in that exact way. But I just don't think he's earned the trust. I don't trust him, but I feel that protecting myself would be interpreted by dh as being suspicious and paranoid given how "mature" and "well behaved" SS has been.

Rags's picture

Categorized people by their actions and never be fooled by their words.  This has to apply to SS and, sadly, to your DH as well.

Time to box them both in.  

First, call the locksmith and rekey the locks.  Put in programable key pad locks that only you can set and delete codes for.  Give DH his, put in a one time use code for SS.  He only gets in if he notifies you to your prior notice expectations or if daddy is home.  Don't ever open the door for him. Make him use his one time then inactivate code to document his arrival. In the event his subterfuge and  duplicitous toxic crap escalates and  you need to call 911 on him.

Second. Web cams as well as a full video and audio security system.  Make sure his full repertoire of sneeky manipulative crap is captured and recorded for review during wine and SS footage evenings with daddy.

Third.  Build the SS BullShit behavior spread sheet clearly listing his crap.  All of it.  The credit card theft (all of it including at BM's),  behavioral issues, no notice home invasions, sneaky crap, etc....  This is to rub daddy's nose in as much as it is to bare this manipulative SS's ass.

Is he 18 and out of HS yet?  

If he is, it is not SS's home. You live there with your DH. It is your marital home.  While it may be SS's childhood/family home, it is no longer his home.  Make sure he and daddy know that clearly.

Once he is, no more bullshit and zero access to your marital home without notable prior arrangements.  This kid is not trustworthy. So, don't trust him.

 I wouldn't if I were you.

Set your standards of behavior and standards of performance and enforce them.  Period. Dot.

Rumplestiltskin's picture

SS is doing what he is allowed to do and acting in a way that gets him what he wants. BM caught on and set limits (took away access to card.) SS knows your DH will allow more than BM, so he's kissing up to dad. If your DH is too weak or permissive to set limits, you may have to figure out your deal-breakers and draw a hard line. If SS is dropping by outside the regular CO schedule, i think you have a right to be informed and to veto if you want. It sounds like he is using your house as his "home base" due to lack of rules there. Some people may disagree but i think that as an adult in your home, you have a right, same as your DH, to determine who comes in and when. The CO has to be followed, so if it is a day SS is supposed to be at yours, you have to allow it. But friends over and pop-overs are something else. Your DH has the right to determine whether or not SS can come on BM's time. So should you. 

JRI's picture

Your SS reminds me of YSS56, a very successful salesman.  Some of those duplicitous traits can work to his advantage later.  I hate to be so cynical but that's how it hss been for my SS. 

tryingjusttrying's picture

Rags, I like your posts because they tell me what is possible. I can't always do what you suggest because my dh would totally object to that level of policing. He himself had a stint as the "bad kid" when he was a tween, which scarred him for life. Any suggestion that his own kid is "bad" makes him hypervigilant and would result in over-protection rather than criticism of SS. Weird, but true. Also, I think in general, people's ego prevents them from seeing the bad in their kid. SS is dh's only child. He wants to be proud of his offspring, and is very quick to shut out opposing evidence. Maybe that's a failing, but that is what I'm facing. It's weird because once in a while, out of the blue, dh will tell people that SS lies and is sneaky. so there is recognition somewhere, but no one else can tell him that.

Rumpelstiltskin, I think you have part of the picture, but mostly dh is simply a more reliable, nurturing parent than BM. I honestly think that if BM stopped getting child support, she would kick out SS in a second. She's actually tried multiple times to kick SS out saying things like, "I want you out of my fucking life!", taking away his keys and stuff. She is highly narcissistic, and demeaning. She was right to take away access to her account, but she also regularly denies him basic necessities, so that wasn't that hard for her. Dh used to give SS the child support checks when he returned to BM's home, but she asked dh to stop doing that. I have no idea why, but I think it's so messed up that they have no trust in each other. In any case, SS has genuine reasons for wanting to be here - dh encourages him, gives him guidance, hugs, and we have a good, loving relationship and a calm environment. But dh's leniency also plays a big factor. SS gets delivery almost every night while he's here and dh does not judge him. SS tells him about EVERYTHING he and his friends do, even semi-criminal stuff, like breaking into buildings just for fun. No one gets harmed. Dh likes that SS is so honest with him. Dh does tell SS the possible negative reprecussions of their actions, but he doesn't say they're wrong. I don't know, I think there's a reason that none of SS's friends are telling their parents what they're up to. Btw, SS has really good friends. Which makes me think that I am the paranoid, suspicious person that I fear. He's had these friends for many years. It started when they were in middle school. SS was kicked out of sleep away camp, actually, for showing the other students porn. In middle school. He was the "crazy" one. At one point, I overheard his friend call him a sneaky liar when they were playing video games. But again, over time, SS has learned to become "normal" and I guess does a passing job. But maybe I'm just being biased. Maybe he IS decent and good, and I'm just trying to cherry pick certain behaviors to confirm my bias.

JRI, I believe that. I think SS could be a good salesman. He does want to study business in school, so we'll see.

Rags's picture



B&E is semi-criminal?  Nope, It is just .... criminal.  No one gets hurt?  Yes, the owner gets hurt.

SS has "good friends".  I disagree. He may have close friends but he does not have good friends. He isn't good himself. If these are his B&E buddies, they are all criminals and not... good.

You may consider partnering with your DH to actually get this kid under hairy eyeball oversight and jerk a knot in his tail to actually get him to the good person point by his launch date. Daddy intervening and minimizing the shit behavior of his shit spawn, indicates that he did not learn much from his own stint as the "bad kid".

The more SS engages in his sneaky manipulative criminal crap, the shorter his launch date becomes.  Children who are no longer minors and who are sneaky, criminal, etc... have no place in the home or family of decent people. Even  when that home and family is that of the no longer minor kid's parent. 

If you present it to DH with a clear review of reality, tie it to DH's own teen flirtations with being the bad kid, define together what good looks like, and the standards that you will establish for SS's behavior and performance, that can be a demonstration of your engagement and support.

IMHO far too many SPs fail to recognize that the equity life partners in a marriage are also equity parents to any kids in their marriage. That is not up to the SKids, it is a fact and the breeder in the equity life partnership needs that clarity and to make sure that their failed family baggage has clarity as well.  Once the Skids become Skidults, all bets are off on any tolerance of non respectful behavior, criminal behavior, etc, etc, etc...  Whether daddy or agrees or not.

If I were you, I would consider a call to the police anonymous tip line giving them SS and his friends names pointing to the properties they have perpetrated B&E activities at.  

Just sayin.

All IMHO of course.

Take care of you.

tryingjusttrying's picture

I understand how it sounds, but these kids seem genuinely good-hearted, and only mischievous, not criminal. For example, my SS decided he would join these friends skiing even though he doesn't know how to ski. When he struggled, one friend stayed with him the whole way down the slope, picking him up every time he fell. Then the entire group of 6 highschoolers decided to spend the rest of the week hiking, climbing and such instead because they felt bad for him. That friend who helped him down the slope is very sweet. But one time, SS was mad at him, so he decided to go on a smear campaign and tried to get all of their friends to turn on him. I heard him on the video game chats instructing their friends to go their snapchat and write mean things about him to 'make sure he knows he's being a bitch'. That friend eventually forgave him. They seem genuinely sweet. Most of them also got into top-rated colleges. SS is the exception. He could only get into one school that is in such an isolated town that there isn't even a McDonald's. When SS was a tween, he was talking about wanting to own a gun and was acting 'gangsta'. I think his friends are the sole reason that he did not become criminal. So again, maybe that's a testament to the fact that SS has actually become a decent human being, and I'm just unfairly judging him based on his past.

Rags's picture

Though it can happen for a miscreant kid to become a decent adult.. the best predictor of future performance is past behavior. I certaily hope that your SS lives up to your hopes for him.

Just be wary and protect yourself physically, financially, and emotionally.

You may want to consider lowering your expectations of him so you are not disappointed.  Or at least be clear 

While I am team nurture over nature, there are exceptions that that optimism.

My SS is an only child in our family/marriage. On his Spermidiot's side, he is the eldest of 4 all out of wedlock Spermidiot spawn half sibs by three different baby mamas.  #3 & #4 are full sibs.  #2 is on the dole, #3 is a federal felon convict, #4 is not far behind the inmate.   Spermidiot was a gangbanger wannabe as a teen and into his early to mid 20s.  His youngest two are far more qualified to join whichever of the Crips or Bloods was the Spermidiot's dream as they are biracial.  Sadly, they are pursuing their Spermidiot's dream.

Our son (my former SS-31 who asked me to adopt him when he was 22) is a man of character, honor, and standing in his caree, life, and profession.  His mom and I are very proud of him.

I do not believe you're judging SS, unfairly or not.  Categorize him by his actions and never be fooled by his words.  Be optimistic about him, but be wary.


tryingjusttrying's picture

Optimistic, but wary sounds like good advice. Your son sounds like a good human being, but he seems to have had a good start in life.

Kloewent's picture

Why do these kids want to come to your house? Do you have great games or food or something? I would put a chain inside the door. I wouldn't want some random kid walking in my house. 

tryingjusttrying's picture

SS's friends don't come over often. When they do, dh often buys them delivery food, so that is an incentive. We don't have any special games or anything. They used to come over a lot about a year, a year and a half ago. I think a lot of that was about his friends' parents getting sick of having a bunch of teen boys over, so SS invited them here. But that stopped not too long after. At that time, dh basically told me to chill and to accept that SS would sometimes have friends over. I gritted my teeth and accepted it because though I didn't love having the idea of a bunch of boys who I'm sure SS says bad things about me to over, he does have the right to.  But this incident was a different story because SS didn't ask me, the grown up in the house, whether he could bring anyone over. I'm sure that made me super popular with this friend who all probably think I'm a wicked witch.

simifan's picture

Why not insist on a time limit that works for you? He must give you an hours notice per say. Since he's being maliciously compliant make the rule something you can live with. 

tryingjusttrying's picture

I was just thinking of that. I most definitely will ask for a time and hold him to it if I'm the only one home. If his dad is here, I don't think dh would go for a time limit, at least not one that is inflexible. Love "maliciously compliant".

ESMOD's picture

Since he is in to being compliant to the letter.. make the letter what you want it to be.  

I want an hour notice before you show up.

I need to have 24 hour notice that you will be bringing guests.

I need 1 week notice for overnight guests (sleepovers.. do they do that?).

I would actually put a bit of this communication on your SO.

When your SO knows something.. why can't he just text you at that time?  His son communicates.. he is having a friend over.. your SO knew.. it would have been just as easy for him to say.. "Ok.. I will let X know you will be having a friend over at 3"  I get wanting the kid to communicate.. but the kid is communicating the info 2x if he tells dad.. then turns around and tells you.

I love the lock idea though.. if you got a programmable lock.. perhaps you could just have the code working during acceptable times.. on custody days.. that is between 3 and 7 or something?  


tryingjusttrying's picture

Thanks ESMOD. Those are completely reasonable expectations if SS's compliance was genuine. But though SS is into compliance, it is only insofar as it endears him to his dad which is pretty much the sole goal. But his basic, underlying attitude especially in regards to me is defiance, so if he can get away with that, that's going to be his default. Which is why SS will do the absolute minimum to be able to "comply" but not really. Like knowing his friend is coming over for hours, but waiting until a few minutes before he arrives to tell me. By doing that, he is technically in compliance, which avoids trouble with his dad (who supplies his material and emotional needs), but still tells me to f**k off because it's not a substantial enough of a head's up to allow me to adjust my plans in a meaningful way. I was in the middle of dyeing my hair and doing my facial which I do once a week when his friend came over. My plan is to tell dh that SS only needs to get me a head's up when he's coming over (ideally 30 minutes), but that if he wants to invite a friend over, he needs to meaningfully consult and plan with me, so that the hang out is going to work for both of us. A head's up isn't going to be sufficient. And there needs to be a time limit. That's only if I'm here without his dad. If his dad is here, then his dad can set the expectations.

As for dh texting me a head's up, he usually would do that. But I think this unexpected visitation from SS was testing the waters a little bit for him. It has been our practice not to have SS over when only I am here (after some disasterous incidents, but that was a few years ago). I think in dh's mind, he was wondering if SS had matured enough that he could be over without he and me butting heads. If that worked out, then SS could be over here more frequently during the week which is what SS would prefer, and though dh would be at work for long hours, at least he could fit in an hour or two in the mornings with SS which he would like. But I am really going to insist that NO visitation arrangement should entail SS spending the most time with his least favorite person - me. BM would love to get him out of her hair, SS loves eating take out and stuff here, but that would involve me hosting by myself someone with disdain for me which stresse me out.

I can't lock the doors. I know dh would take that very badly and would be a source of bad feelings that I would not want to risk introducing between us.

Winterglow's picture

If you're dying your hair, in the bath, reading a good book, or whatever, locking the doors is a perfectly normal reaction.  If you husband can't understand that sometimes we need a bit of privacy and his son needs to respect that then he's seriously not the sharpest crayon in the box.

Winterglow's picture

should YOUR comfort, as the lady of the house, be denied due to a boor of a kid who refuses to accept others' boundaries even when they cost him nothing beyond a little consideration and respect? The result is that you don't feel at home in your own house. Is that what your husband? Does he really think so little of his wife?

NotMeAnymore's picture

These SSs and BPs are like textbook cases - if I tweak a thing here and there in your situation it's like being in my household... SS is sneaky and knows how to fake behaviuors... then manipulates, does things underhanded, barely talks to me when SO is not in the house one word here and there like HUNGRY, FOOD UGA UGA!!

I required SO to let me know when SS is coming because same reason I work from home and SO goes to the office. Once SS showed up, no alert, and then he asked for food, he got my retort:  " I din't know you were coming, so there's no food". 

tryingjusttrying's picture

Thanks Winterglow. I don't think dh would go for locking the door. Me asking that would probably make him turn against me, But SS recently turned 18, so I want to start talking to dh about what that means. When SS and I talked after the incident, I tried to convey to him that I was the adult in charge, and was entitled to enforce certain rules of conduct in the home. He countered with "well, now I'm an adult too." I took it kind of ominously because he seemed to be suggesting that he could take more charge as an "adult". But the fact is, he can take more charge in his own household, not this one. I need to talk to dh about this because SS is very persuasive, and I've seen him convince dh of this type of thing because dh tries really hard to be conscientious on both of our behalfs. I can easily see dh becoming convinced like, 'yeah, he's an adult now, so he can do what he wants.' But though I can't lock the door, I really feel my perspective is affirmed just by people suggesting that we should.

I haven't been bold enough in the past. I need more of your attitude, Notmeanymore!

Winterglow's picture

Firstly, you shouldn't need ask for permission to lock your doors. Your husband may not like it but he should support you as his wife and partner. If you say you need advanced warning of visitors then he should back you up.

Leaving your doors open when you are alone is not a safe option. 

Secondly, your SS may well be an adult  but until he's paying all the bills, he doesn't get to call the shots. You're right in wanting to make your case on that sooner than later. Your husband seriously needs to tell his son that,as his wife and as the lady of the house, what you say GOES!

Rags's picture

Don't ask.  Just lock the doors you want locked. At  the later of 18 or HS graduation an ill behaved SK is subject to immediate banishment from your home.  Irrespective of what his kid butt sniffing daddy thinks.

Harry's picture

 You should have nothing to do with SS. IF DH is not home SS should be at his BM.  You are not the circus master ring master.   

Winterglow's picture


tryingjusttrying's picture

Rags, I'm always appreciative of your perspective because it has clarity about right and wrong. But I don't see how I could override dh's wishes on actions taken against his BS without harming his trust and connection with me. I don't want to harm my relationship with dh. I'd rather let SS get away with stuff until he goes away to college.

Harry, I agree with you 100%. In this, I do feel that dh will hear me. In fact, that was our standing policy for a few years until this latest stint. In the past, dh had an open door policy. This house was open to SS "any time" - when he was a child, that meant whenever dad had free time and could pick him up from mom's. But when SS became a teen and could come and go on his own, it became problematic. SS would find sneaky ways to always end up here and dh could never say 'no' to what seemed to be innocuous requests to come over. After all, wasn't it SS's home too? On BM's side, she was always trying to palm off SS on us, so she was motivated to get him here also. At some point, she figured out that if she got into a nasty fight with SS, she could call dh to let him know that she was "done". The more she yelled, the more upset dh would get, and became highly motivated to "rescue" SS. Soon she was doing that all of the time. Essentially, dh was coaching her how to effectively get free babysitting - just pick a fight with SS! Eventually, dh agreed that the coming and going was too much, so we tried to stick with a fixed schedule as far as possible. But more recently, I think dh is getting a little sentimental that SS will be going away for college in the fall, so I think he is opening up a little about SS's presence here. But I think this incident showed him that it is still the case that no one's goal is to get SS to spend more time with me. No plan should involve that. But that's how much more SS would rather be here than at his mom's - he's willing to risk clashing with me and being here with me without his dad for the majority of the time. I used to and still do feel sorry for SS that his mom's house is so unhospitable to him. But that doesn't change the fact that I am still one planet even further alien to him than his mom. When I did used to provide free babysitting (I felt obliged to take SS off his mom's hands), he would have long conversations with his mom on the phone, and I would get barely a word. Meanwhile, I was giving up my free time to be on hand for him. I felt so used. But the tropes about what a "good" SM should be was so strong. But no, no, no.

Winterglow, thanks for that perspective. I can be guilty of being a pushover, and it took me a bit of time to start asserting my authority as the "lady of the house". Because dh and SS lived here for several years before I came into the picture, all of us approached the situation as if I was the interloper upon dh's and SS's territory. It has started to dawn on dh and me that actually, this is our home which SS gets to live in, and not the other way around. Dh had that realization when he thought about his own dad and stepmom. He never once thought of their house as his because they bought the home together when they got married. But the same concept applies: as you say, until SS sets up a home of his own where he is paying the bills, he doesn't get to be the "master of the realm."

Rags's picture

You are not overiding DH. You are enforcing the standards of behavior and standards of performance as well as the boundaries you require regarding SS interfacing with you appropriately, respectfully, and effectively.  Those apply to not only SS but also to anyone in your marriage, home, life, and blended family.  Regardless of who they may be.

But I don't see how I could override dh's wishes on actions taken against his BS without harming his trust and connection with me. I don't want to harm my relationship with dh. I'd rather let SS get away with stuff until he goes away to college.

If you do nothing, say nothing, and change nothing, nothing will change.  DH will continue to sniff SS's butt instead of parenting, and instead of respecting his wife. You will continue to live an upsetting life with this failed man and his failed family baggage.  The fundamentals will not change when SS goes to college.  Just the schedule will change. You will remain an afterthought at best. For both your DH and his failed family baggage.  Do not be an afterthought for yourself and in your own life.

Do not tolerate that for yourself.

Take care of you.


NotMeAnymore's picture

tryingjusttrying says: "...rather let SS get away with stuff until he goes away to college"

Rags replies: "The fundamentals will not change when SS goes to college.  Just the schedule will change."

Mic Drop!!!