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How much input do I have in the visitation schedule?

tryingjusttrying's picture

This is going to be a long post, so thank you if you read it through. I often lurk here, but do not post often. I have a question about scheduling that I think needs the prespective of other stepparents. When dh and I decided to move in together, I moved into his place. So at first, it felt like this house was their house (dh and ss who is 17), and I was just a visitor. SS definitely made that be known. Dh wanted SS to feel that he was wanted and welcomed, so the rule was that SS could come here at any time or day (BM lives close by and his school has always been within walking distance). There have been many times in the past when even on days he is supposed to be at his mom's, SS would ask to come over just to play video games, and then he would ask for pizza delivery and would stay and hang out. At the time, I was under the sway of the stereotype that a stepmom had to be nurturing and understanding no matter what. So though I really disliked the unpredictability and not knowing when dh and I would have quiet time together (or alone), I grinned and beared it. That's changed over time, and DH now gives SS the message that there are boundaries to coming over, and does ask SS to text if he wants to come over for any reason. That's actually a deterrent for SS coming over when DH is not here because SS really dislikes even the appearance of having to check with me about coming here.

I also feel that I stepped into their space in other ways. Dh, BM, and SS always determined visitation schedules, and other business like who buys what, who takes SS to the doctors, etc., etc. For a long time, I've felt that it was not my place to interfere in that because they had a contract, and the most important factor was the child's needs. But I tend towards self-denial, so it didn't occur to me before that my preferences should matter too.

I'm realizing that dh doesn't take my needs into consideration in scheduling for several reasons: 1. he's just so used to accommodating SS and BM's preferences that it's just a habit. 2. They get loud and angry if they don't get their way, but I don't fuss, so he accommodates them to avoid the drama. 3. They do have a divorce agreement that was created way before I came into the picture.

I got really mad the other night. A few days before a holiday weekend, since I thought it would be inevitable, I asked if he could make a switch of visitation days. I never make such a request, but that seemed sort of a natural switch because of SS's pattern of requesting certain days during holidays. DH dismissed me out of hand and asked me not to make such requests because, rightly, he didn't want to encourage SS and BM to do that which they always do. Well, a few evenings later, SS calls to ask for the very switch I requested. DH immediately puts the phone down and asks me if it'd be okay to make the switch, forgetting that I made the same request which he batted down right away. I called him out and told him that this was completely an example of how my preferences come last. He doesn't miss a beat in trying to accommodate their requests, but he hems and haws when it comes to me. Btw, their requests to change the schedule are frequent and he doesn't ask them for a reason. He wants to be flexible hoping BM will be too when he has requests.

There's going to be another switch up for the summer, and I'm not sure how much I should expect to help shape the schedule. I know that they have a divorce agreement, but in this past year, they have not followed it even remotely closely because SS insisted that he could do better in school if only he had more time with dad. That affected me obviously, and DH did check with me before agreeing, but it is one of those things where any disagreement would have met with a huge fight. The new schedule would involve even more extended stays because if they did follow the agreement, SS would have been at his dad's less. What I'm afraid of is giving the impression that I want to obstruct their time together. But is it obstruct or is it about me having some say in the scheduling that affects me too?

Btw, it should be mentioned that SS and I don't really get along. It comes down to jealousy on his part. He barely speaks to me, has tried to literally push me out of family pictures, has exhibited hostility in various ways, etc. But we don't engage in overt fighting or any kind of drama like that. We're more just avoidant of each other. Part of why I'm asking for others' perspective is because I'm not exactly motivated to spend time with SS, so I'm going to be leaning towards having him less. I need someone to tell me if I'm letting my reluctance overtake what is SS's right.

Rumplestiltskin's picture

I personally would not push to have skid(s) less than you already do, but i absolutely would push to have predictability in who is in my home and when. You are your DH's spouse. SS's needs should come first, but his and BM's wants should not come before yours. Your DH is being inconsiderate of you to expect you to be continually surprised at the "schedule" that he, SS, and BM make without your input.

Ideally, you and your DH should come up with a schedule that serves SS's needs. Then your DH would tell BM and SS what is proposed. If they have changes they want, he should check with you before agreeing. Last-minute changes should be for urgent issues only.

Also, SS is 17. How long does your DH plan on having him live at home? Is he going to college? If SS treats you badly, that should factor into how long he stays after he graduates high school. The worse he acts, the shorter his post-high-school stay should be. Your DH is a bad DH if he doesn't see that. 

Harry's picture

New relationship, new home.  You gave up  so much power when moving into there home.  I know the feeling did it.

Second, you are an adult, your are the DW, you have a life, kid visits should be ok by you.  If there a CO then visitation is spelled out. Should be followed.  DH can see his kid but not in your home, out for dinner.   You have a say.  

tryingjusttrying's picture

Thanks for those feedbacks. Rumplestiltskin, I think your advice is balanced and fair. To your last comment, I did wonder how long I'm going to be living with this person who dislikes/hates me. I definitely respect dh's commitments and obligations to his child. But you're saying that if SS continues to have a problem with me, then that is enough of a reason to shorten his stay here? Let's say that he goes to college (which right now is in doubt), knowing him, SS would probably need 6 years to get a 2 year degree, probably at a local community college. I'm not being mean - he would readily admit that he is not academically inclined. Wouldn't it be the right thing to do to provide shelter and food for those 6 years? That is the worst case scenario in my head. It's another story if he goes straight to work (though that is in doubt as well since he's very adverse to work. Has never even had chores.)

Thanks for you thoughts, Harry. I agree that I gave up power by moving in with them. But isn't that pretty common? Is it always a mistake? I'm not sure if I agree that the only time DH should be seeing SS is outside of the home.

Rumplestiltskin's picture

As far as the after 18/high school graduation - how does your husband feel? I get the impression that he doesn't take your feelings into consideration. That you don't trust him to be reasonable when it comes to his son.

As far as my kids go, I will support/shelter them after 18 if they are in school and making reasonable progress. Taking 6 years to get a 2 year degree is not reasonable progress. Unless the kid is mentally challenged, to do that would entail lots of screwing around, partying, video games, and general freeloading. Would your husband allow that and make excuses? I recommend going to marriage counseling to discuss how to handle SS's launch plans as a couple if you don't trust him to act reasonably.

Alternative plans might be to help subsidize SS to live in a dorm while in school, if that's doable. Or, if not in school or other training, give him 6 months of full-time work with no bills to save the $ to move out. That's more than generous. There's no reason for you to be stuck with this kid indefinitely. At 17, there should be a light at the end of the tunnel.

ETA my bio kids know that financial amd housing support after high school are based on performance. I would not continue throwing money or housing at an over-18 kid who isn't passing their classes or advancing toward a degree. If SS graduates with no plan, i would not be ok with him just chilling at home working part-time and blowing his money. 

tryingjusttrying's picture

I do think dh will be reasonable when it comes to expectations about leaving home in a timely way. It might be longer than the framework that you mention, but he has said to me that he would rather help pay SS's rent than have him stay here beyond a certain age. He's worried that it might enable SS to become a failure to launch if he gets too comfortable here. I just don't know if in reality he'll be able to do that.

My SS is not mentally disabled, but he's not academic, has a poor work ethic, and is impulsive. He would also rather party than study, and I agree that that's not something I would want to support. We'll cross that line when it comes.

Thanks for your observations/comments about expectations. That was really helpful.

ESMOD's picture

Would your DH be open to encouraging his kid to join a branch of the military?  Does your SS have any interests or inclinations that might lend themselves to a particular trade (where you don't need a degree to succeed)?  

I agree that having a young adult that acts unpleasantly towards you would not be welcome very long term after graduation/18.  

And.. your DH's idea to supplement his rent to encourage independence is good.. perhaps he and a buddy could find a place together? 

Having a say in the schedule.. well.. it kind of does depend. I see your DH's inclination is to try to follow the CO "whenever possible".. but try to be flexible when asked by SS and his mom because he hopes it will make other stuff just go smoother. and.. he's probably not totally wrong to try to go along.. even when they likely are not as reciprocal.. but it's not something worth really getting knotted up over at this point.. the kid IS 17 and it is likely to be a temporary issue as he launches (see the first part)

So.. should you have some say in your home's schedule..sometimes and if the circumstances warrant it.. like if you have a specific commitment.. have guests coming in from out of town and need the room etc.. but just because you would like a break? probably not for minor reasons would I suggest any changes.. esp if they meant less time.

Again.. he is 17... this issue shouldn't be one you really have to deal with for all that much longer.

tryingjusttrying's picture

I think you're right that it's only a matter of time before he moves out, but several more years of this is not that consoling. Lol. It's hard when you're forced to inhabit the same living space with someone who dislikes you on a regular basis.I do want there to be some predictable structure, but you're also right that he's perfectly reasonable to want to accommodate them. I strongly believe that his narcissistic ex constantly changes the schedule to be able to control our lives in whatever way she can, but if it isn't hugely inconvenient, who cares? As for the idea that I should keep my requests limited and specific, I decided I want more than that. I should be able to have my time and space respected regularly even if it's just for my quiet reading time.

To answer your question, SS would never join the military. But he probably will just join his dad doing a job that doesn't require a college degree. Maybe he'll be able to manage just doing that. SS has a lot of trouble building any kind of skill because he doesn't like to work and does not persist in things.

ESMOD's picture

What I meant was limited and specific.. it is to asking him to modify his allotted custody time.  You, of course are free to retire to your room to quietly read and expect reasonable conduct in the home regarding volume activiites like TV and music and gaming.

You also can ask a child to go watch TV in their room.. if you are looking to watch TV in the living room .. 

I get that "years" don't seem fun.. but it is a potential end at some point hopefully.. lol.

tryingjusttrying's picture

I do appreciate your perspective in advocating for working together and being fair. I think the devil is in the details. Noise is an issue. SS enjoys screaming at the top of his lungs when he plays video games. In the past, dh has tried to get him to moderate that, but gave up because that's part of the enjoyment ("getting it all out") and in any case, SS can't help it. He'll last 2 minutes tops of moderating his voice. There is not a single room in the house that his voice doesn't reach. I've tried that. SS likes to talk louldy on the phone with friends (he's very social). In between all that, he plays loud rap music on his speakers and plays tik tok videos throughout the day even when he goes to the bathroom for even the 20 seconds he's in there. He needs to be watching something on the walk from his room to the bathroom and back. I accept all of this when he's with us. The only thing I asked dh to talk to SS about is the interminable tik tok videos all day long. I wouldn't subject everyone in the house to loud history podcasts. DH got mad because he perceived it as me judging him.

Once in a while, he'll bring his girlfriend over too. That's really awesome for me. It's not often, but when the three of us are in the house together, I get two 17 year olds ignoring me and acting like it's not my home. Sometimes, it'll be a group of friends.

If I want any kind of me-time or any kind of peace to think or relax, I do think it has to be when SS is not here.

Rumplestiltskin's picture

No wonder you don't want him around. As far as my SO's kids, if they are being loud on video games when i'm sleeping there, SO makes them be quieter or go to bed after SO and I have gone to bed. Otherwise they might be up all night yelling and i wouldn't be able to sleep for work the next day. I do the same with my kids when we stay at my house. That's common decency and minimal civil behavior. That's what i meant in my reply about being able to trust your partner to be reasonable. It's unreasonable to expect you to tolerate screaming when you are trying to sleep or loud music playing in the house. Basic civility is not polluting the house with noise that others don't want to hear. He can use headphones or jam out in his car (if he has one.) Expecting you to tolerate intolerable behavior says that your husband can't be trusted to make good decisions as a parent or spouse. 

tryingjusttrying's picture

I think what you're saying is totally reasonable. As I said, dh has tried to get SS to tone it down. But it's so hard to explain the mix of personality and pent up emotions and adhd and the attention he gets from his friends for his wildness, etc. that makes it almost impossible for him to tone it down, almost like trying to make a bird not chirp. Dh went through a phase when he tried to monitor the screaming during video games, and he would literally have to go in every few minutes. We both genuinely think that he can't help himself. Between fighting all night or letting his kid have fun, dh chose the latter. As for the music, we also play music on the speakers that SS may not necessarily like. DH's position is that SS gets to do that too.

I do think your suggestions are reasonable, but I'm not sure if it's a matter of trust or not. My ex describes SS as "obnoxious and loud" like his mom. (not to his face). What if that's your personality? My ex doesn't want to spend all day only criticizing him. Sometimes, dh will even pretend to believe SS's lies just because his mom is pretty hard on him. DH does his best to embrace SS and accept him with warts and all, and wishes I would too.  I'm kind of the introverted type, so it's particularly hard for me to embrace the loudness of it all, especially when I'm already feeling disrespected.

I really appreciate the thoughts and questions everyone put into addressing my concerns. That is such a kindness.

CLove's picture

yeah, its a widespread issue.

I just had to ask husband what the visitation schedule for this week would be. I figure if I get no say-so or input the least I should get is information.

All I got was silence and attitude for the small amount of time I was around.

tryingjusttrying's picture

That's where I landed too - I figured that it was not my place to shape the custody schedule, but at least check with me in case of some crucial plan and keep me informed. But recently, I started to wonder how much I could have my needs considered as well. But it's such a touchy subject for us. I think dh has been more understanding lately, but initially, he would get super upset any time we even talked about SS's time here because he perceived my wanting structure, etc. as me rejecting his son in a way. I guess, it is implied that I want to spend less time with his darling SS when I talk about the schedule. I feel kind of bad about that. But dh is more understanding that not getting along does not solely fall on my shoulders.

ESMOD's picture

If it's a "crucial plan".. your DH should be aware of that as soon as you are aware of it... but didn't he check with you to see if a change was "ok".. I get it's frustrating he is willing to entertain their requests.. and seems to want to not push for yours.. but it sounds like your particular example wasn't for a specific "need".. so he was trying to not rock the boat.. but he does try to work with his EX for some hoped reciprocation... and perhaps doesn't want to use his currency with her unless it's super vital on his end?

Rumplestiltskin's picture

I think it also depends on how reasonable those involved are. When i started dating my SO, there was no custody schedule. SO was the one assumed to be responsible for the kids, but BM could come and go as she pleased, sometimes taking the kids with her overnight but usually just taking them out for a few hours or visiting with them at SO's house, cooking a meal and hanging around for a few hours. Sometimes she wouldn't show up for a week or more, and sometimes she would come back and forth several times in a day, just to say hi or bring food. Obviously i had to say something, since SO wanted me to hang out at his house, and BM was very rude to me also. All that to say, if you can't trust those involved to be reasonable or normal, you have to either put your foot down or leave. 

tryingjusttrying's picture

I could see myself falling into a situation like that, innocently enough, thinking I could handle it. But I'm pretty sure that I would be mad all the time if I knew that BM was coming and going to SO's house the way you describe. When we were dating, DH would be the one going over to his ex's to pick up and drop off, but they would also hang out and chat, and even that upset me a little, though I didn't tell him that. I should mention that part of BM's narcissistic tendency is to try to "hoover" him. I have a lot of reason to believe that she tries to keep him there as long as possible to prove that he still finds her irresistable and charming. For example, it just so hppens that when he drops off, she gets "chatty" and wants to talk about everything under the sun.

I definitely agree that trust is key. I do trust DH's judgment for the most part. I think he tries to do right by everyone, but for a variety of reasons, including guilt about the divorce and not having spent enough time with SS when he was a kid, as well as just not being able to take himself out of the bio parent perspective to look at how the arrangment might be affecting the adult who did not raise him nor have a connection with him, DH used to get upset when I wasn't 100% supportive and super happy to have SS around all the time. DH even admits that his son is loud, lies a lot, and "takes up the room", but as a bio parent, there is an unconditional love there that embraces his presence no matter what. My own bio son does not live with us, nor does he come around too much unless invited. So my dh doesn't ever experience the dynamics that make blended family life difficult.

TrueNorth77's picture

I am very familiar with a DH being upset when you try to establish structure or have a say in visitation schedules, as mine also takes it as me rejecting skids and a huge fight ensues. Changes often almost solely affect me, as DH has done shift work most of the time we've been together and is often working 2nd or 3rd shift. So adding days? I'm the one home with them. Offering Crazy (BM) right of first refusal when we go on a trip and then DH insisting we make up the days, even though ROFR isn't a "switch" in our CO and skids will be with me the extra days? My input doesn't matter, and he is going to do what he wants to do. 

I do think you should have a say in visitation, but I agree that trying to lessen it isn't the best move (not that you were). But there should be a happy medium where you aren't being steamrolled by SS, BM, and SO, and you are also considered. I also think your SO needs to have a chat with SS about his treatment of you. If he wants to be jealous and not get over it, fine. But he should absolutely remain respectful and not be alllowed to get away with pushing you out of pictures or whatever other passive-aggressive behavior he is engaging in. He can't live there if that's how he acts, and that is a fair standard. 
Based on your description of SS, a "contract" for after high school seems perfectly acceptable and maybe even necessary. If he goes to college, he can stay as long as he completes it in X amount of time. If he doesn't, he will be expected to move out. There is no taking 6yrs because he isn't applying himself. My DH is really on skids about school, he doesn't let them slack. If SS works, he can stay for x amount of time (9 months) and then he must move out. The deadlines should be realistic but also motivating and require the need to save/put in effort to meet, or he will do the absolute minimum and never leave...

We have talked to skids for years about life after high school and expectations. They will go to college or work and move out- they will not stay at home and sponge off of us. They very clearly know that's not an option. I am VERY thankful DH and I agree on that.

tryingjusttrying's picture

Thanks for all of the feedback. It seems that people agree that dh should not feel that he should be seeing SS less. I certainly wouldn't ask that of him, though I do think that my requests for more boundaries could be taken that way. I have to be careful about that.

I relate to your situation in that if SS were here during the week, I would be the one with him for the most part because of DH's long hours, and there have been times that I've done that. But recognizing that, their CO says that BM has SS during the week, and DH has him on the weekends. But now that SS is pretty self-sufficient, he wants to be here all the time. He generally prefers his dad to his mom, his room is a little bigger and his dad orders him delivery food. But that would mean spending the most time with the person he likes least - me. That doesn't make sense. Maybe if he was younger, I would have had a chance to connect with him on a more parental level, but I met him when he was already 13. Your dh and the kids are very lucky that you are willing to be there for them. I hope that your skids are warmer to you than mine is to me.

That pushing incident happened during the most intense period of jealousy. He hasn't shown me overt  hostility in about a year, so the relationship is relatively respectful if not warm.

Yes, I'm glad that my dh will encourage SS to become independent after high school and maybe college. My concern is that SS will not launch. What if he simply fails out of college and refuses to work. Currently, it's probable that SS will not even graduate highschool on time. I don't think DH will be able to say "tough" if SS can't support himself. But I can see how having clear expectations for the skids' future would be so helpful - must make the work just a little easier knowing that there is a finish line.

Rags's picture


What you have absolute input and even control over is any deviations from the COd visitation schedule.  Once the CO stipulates visitation, that is it. Also, since you are on the NCP side of the equation, your side can forego visitation leaving the CP to care for the child.

This is the only benefit the NCP side has most of the time.  Use it.

The Skids don't come except on COd visitation times. PERIOD!!!

If you do not set the boundary and defend it, nothing will change and you will remain less than in your relationship and in your home.

Good luck.

lala-land's picture

Madam,  I actually had to write down a list of behaviors that you used to describe your 17 year old SS. And he comes across as an obnoxious jerk that has been supported in his behaviour by both the biological parents. Your loud, lazy, hostile, non-working, impulsive, non-rule following, angry SS is not visiting your DH, he is using your home as a drop in arcade center with free internet.  He does not follow any basic standards of civilized behaviour while he is in your home and your DH continues to make excuses for his feral son.  If you can, the video game console should be long gone and the internet shut down or password protected and I assume your SS would cut back his drop in visits considerably.  If this is not possible, then you have a huge DH problem, because he is then choosing not to parent his son.  Can you imagine anyone else wanting to live with your SS given his behaviours?  It is a parents job to raise productive adults that can go out into society not feral adults who make other peoples lives miserable.

tryingjusttrying's picture

That's a lot to think about. I actually am grateful to have mirrored back the list of undesirable behaviors that clearly would rub everyone the wrong way. I often feel guilty for not being more understanding, so that feels validating for people to call that out. I just want to be clear that SS is not obnoxious 100% of the time. In fact, he's come a long way since I met him. Since DH works a lot, before I came into the picture, he would follow whatever parenting guidelines his ex set, and that was really a disaster. BM was projecting a lot of bad stuff onto SS, and tried to convince DH that SS was unusally bad, maybe even evil, so she had to punish him. No discussions about lessons learned, the goodness or badness of actions, etc. She was just all about depriving him of his stuff and freedoms. And SS responded in kind - I think he would probably have been diagnosed with conduct disorder when I first met him. He constantly got into trouble at school, he never followed the rules, if dh took away his phone, SS would snatch it right back in defiance without even batting an eye. But with my help, if I may say so, DH began to go his own way more, talked to SS more, punished him less, and pushed back when his ex tried to carry out severe punishments for minor incidents. I think DH saw a lot of positive impacts of that more child friendly, gentle approach. SS became less angry, and more invested in doing well in school. He is still on the brink, but he went from failing several classes, to now just one, and getting C's mostly and for the first time an A (in gym, but that does show he's trying). DH is actually thrilled about the progress. So what I'm seeing is DH continuing to try the more accepting, less punitive approach when he allows SS to scream during video games, etc.

Funny enough, when I first met SS, he kind of clung to me as a safe person because his dad also seemed to have pent up anger and antagonisms created, in my opinion, by a BM that was all about her narcissitic need to feel in control of the narrative (she felt in control when everyone around her was falling apart). Dh was actually not too thrilled about the fact that SS seemed to lean on me at times and sometimes I wonder if DH has subconsciously kept SS and I from becoming too close. All I know is that over time, SS grew to resent me and wanted me out of the picture.

I am very happy to have Rags and lal-land reflect back the truly obnoxious and difficult behaviors that I have had to struggle with. It's not just the obnoxious behavior, but there are character issues like lying and being ultra materialistic, etc. He's a lot less overtly angry now, though I suspect that he's just learned how to cover more by acting more charming and empathetic. He is still machiaveillan and I know he takes money from my dh's and my wallets without asking. Or maybe he truly is becoming more virtuous and I am being suspicious. Either way, there is improvement overall, and so I guess I'm wondering if people would still say that SS should be shut down immediately for his obnoxious behaviors or should dh try to maintain the more accepting, gentle approach, knowing that in the past, SS was harshly treated by his mom. My posts on this thread are about wanting more determination over visitation and my own time since it's hard to live life when SS is here. But I also see the overall progress that SS has made and want to tolerate enough BS if it helps him.

lala-land's picture

Madam,  Your SS is 17 not 7.  You have a very limited time to deal with his behaviours which by the way would bother most people.  You had me convinced that he was improving under the kinder, gentler approach, until you mentioned the lieing, stealing, and the materialistic, Machiavellian behaviors.  There are things you and your DH can control (following the CO as per Rags suggestions, take away the video games and internet access).  If your DH is not onside for those suggestions, then as I stated previously you have a bigger DH problem.  Abusing your trust by lieing and stealing from you and your DH are huge issues and I am not sure how you can justify those behaviors.  Stealing from your wallets is illegal and  is one of the hallmarks of conduct disorder.  If that carries on outside your home you will both be dealing with the justice system, which will not use a kind and gentle approach to that behaviour.  

tryingjusttrying's picture

I've been letting your comments sink in. This is a fraught issue for me and I keep going back and forth on it. I think you're absolutely right that the behaviors SS exhibits would not be acceptable in society. But he's smart enough to know that taking from strangers would lead to big trouble, whereas he mostly can get away with stealing from his dad (he usually does it when his dad is napping). I hide my purse when SS is around. I'm not making excuses for him, but he's not so out of control that he would do things that would get him in jail. I asked my BS what he thought of a child taking cash from his parents' wallet. He would never do that himself, but he felt that it wasn't as serious as taking from a stranger or friend because your parents are already inclined to provide for you. I  still think SS needs to held accountable for his breach of trust in the home, but I just think that's a false equivalence.

I do think that SS has deep character flaws. And actually, in my head, I'm often quite appalled and angry, which feeds into my guilt about not accepting him as he is. It's constant cognitive dissonance as I watch SS get away with stuff over and over again. SS saw a therapist for a while and even she told DH and BM that SS needed strict limits, and seemed to be concerned that he would not respect others' boundaries. But in the end, I am not the one raising him and so I think it's best that I take a back seat to his and BM's parenting choices. But no, I don't agree with their choices as you all seem not to as well. It's ridiculous on the surface to say that lying, stealing and being machiaveillian is an improvement, but he actually tries now and tries to get along with authority figures, and he's even getting better with me. The other day, he took the dog out when I asked (his dad wasn't here), and he did so without protesting. His character flaws are still there, but no one can say he's not better off now than then. Would taking a more strict apporach with him help him change his ways? Dh likes the fact that SS is now more open with him and communicates with him about all the good and bad that he does (well, a lot more than before. He still does lie to his dad). Dh thinks that if he goes back to being strict, SS will shut off communication again and do crazy stuff behind his back, and then dh will have no tether to keep him from flying off the handle.

As for sticking with the CO, I've gotten conflicting messages about that. Some are saying that being flexible will help with the collaboration between DH and BM, and others are saying that there should be an absolute hard line. The deviation from the CO this past year was by the request of SS, who thought he would do better in school if he was with his dad more. And he did. Things like that make it really hard to keep a hard line.

Rags's picture

As soon as SS arrives, daddy's wallet and your purse are very clearly put in the safe. Tell him that there is no choice but to lock those things up because he is a thief.

Record every move he makes in your home with the web cams (except in the bathroom or his bedroom. Make sure cams cover the entrance to his room so he is on cam from the second he leaves his room until he returns.

Be overt about it all. Tell him that he is a thief and if he steals, even in daddy's home, he will be hauled off in hand cuffs and the camera footage will be provided to the DA for his prosecuation.

Lather.... rinse.... repeat.

At 17, he could be charged as an adult.  I=He is not too many months from having record that follows him for life.

Make that happen. He earned it.

Why would you choose to feel guilty because SS is a POS?  I do agree that you should accept him... as the POS that he is and then nail his ass to the wall for being the POS he chooses to be.

There is nothing wrong with this kid other than he is a POS. Stop making excuses for him and stop martyring yourself on the alter to this POS kid and his failed father.  You did not creat what they are. Stop enabling them to be what they are and put the onus completely on them to fix it. Including engaging law enforcement for the thieving crap.

He is in YOUR home. YOU absolutley can set and enforce boundaries in your home.  Even if his failed parent of a daddy won't. So, set and enforce the boundaries. PERIOD. DOT.

IMHO, "better" is irrelevant when the lying, thieving, etc... continues.  A lie makes the kid a liar. PERIOD.  That he does not lie all of the time is irrelevant.  He does not get to choose when people believe him or not. One lie, zero trust. Until he delivers an extended period of truthfulness. By extended period, YEARS is an extended period.

Stop considering this POS kid and defend your wellbing and quallty of life. Absolute compliance with the visitation schedule in the CO is critital to that IMHO.  I would amplify that boundary by telling SS and DH that he will not return to your home, even in compliance with the CO, unless DH is present in the home with SS is there. PERIOD. DOT. Re-key the locks and do not give SS a key. He can sit on the curb until daddy gets home.

My SS spent a couple of days on the curb when he refused to comply with the standards required for him to be in our home.  He was not much older than your SS at that time. SS learned that he did what was required, or... he had zero access to the family home during normal work hours. If he completed his chores for the day, he got to do it again the next day while his mom and I were at work. We shut off the cable and internet when we left for work.  If he did not complete that day's beck-and-call boy/chore bitch list, he was on the curb for the next work day and had to get both days chores completed over night or... back to the curb.  He only tested us twice.  Our son was not a thief, he was trustworthy, he just needed a burning platform to motivate him to launch. 

Your SS needs to have his platform lit on fire now so he leaps into adult life at 18 or HS gradaution, whichever is the later. My SS graduated HS at 17. He had the summer after graduation on our dime. After his 18th B-day, he went from full access member of our household, to live in cleaner, chef, lawn service, laundry service, and do whatever he was told to do resource. He did what we did. He was still our kid, but his access to the home was on a day by day ad hoc basis.   

4mos after his 18th B-day he enlisted in the USAF on the delayed entry program. He figured that he might as well get paid for doing what he was told by others rather than just being housed, clothed, and fed.   For 4 more months we kept the platform burning and worked his butt off as our house keeper, etc... until he reported to MEPS to ship off the USAF BMT.  He celebrated his 12yr service anniversary two and half months ago.  His commitment to himself is to serve in the USAF for 20+ years and retire with full military retirement benafits. 

He is a good man or character, honor, and standing in his profession and community.  He periodically will thank his mom and I for how we raised him. His three younger Spermidiot spawned half sibs are failed adults.  #1 is on the dole, #2 is in prison, and #3 is following closely behind #2.

Time is long past over to continue to accomodate kid brain farts from your SS-17.  He needs a burning platform and a boot up his ass. 

Stop punishing yourself. 

IMHO of course.

Take care of you.

Rumplestiltskin's picture

Idk, the more i read, it sounds like your DH has no control over his son or his household. When you ask how much input you have over the visitation schedule, i assumed you meant how much control do you have over the CO (which isn't much, that's up to the parents and the courts.) I don't think you or your husband have nearly enough control over SS. You mentioned in a post above that his loud noises are beyond his ability to control. Unless he is mentally challenged or mentally ill, that's not true. You guys are all tiptoeing around this out-of-control kid. You suffer for it, and the kid will, too. 

tryingjusttrying's picture

Wow. That is so much what I want to hear. I waste a lot of time second guessing myself because I am so apalled by these behaviors that Dh tolerates and it just grates against my moral compass, my sense of fairness, etc. etc. I don't want to seem righteous and judgemental which I think from dh's point of view, I am. There is definitely a wide gap between my expectation and DH's. We actually do have a web cam. It was about six months ago when SS started bringing his girlfriend around. We were in the other room napping, and when we got up, my dh was curious what they were up to, so he clicked on the app on his phone and rewound the video. We saw the two of them walk over to the closet where my dh's wallet was, and I saw SS reach into the closet and it looked like he was checking something (the object was out of sight). I know SS was checking his wallet for cash and I know he didn't have any, so they walked away empty handed. Both me and dh were watching this, but dh remained completely oblivious. We didn't say a word to each other about it, but I just know by his reaction that he just thought SS and his girlfriend were just randomly strolling by the closet which is by the front door which is nowhere near anything else, like the bathroom and kitchen. If I said at that time that it was clear that they were checking his wallet for cash, my dh would scold me for being suspicious. I actually like this quality of dh. He gives everyone the benefit of the doubt, including his friends, ex, SS, and me. I'm grateful for his generous spirit. But when it comes to SS, it can make things really hard. There is no way, dh would go for a lock down of our wallets. It was hard enough for me to mention to Dh that I suspected SS of taking cash from my wallet. DH admitted that he suspected SS took money from him too, but he wouldn't do anything about it. Notice that he still keeps his wallet in common spaces. I so much want to tell him to hide his wallet, but again, he would find me overly suspicious for suggesting that. I think in his mind, a kid taking a little cash once in a while is not the biggest deal.

I needed to hear that just because he doesn't lie all the time doesn't make him trustworthy. I gaslight myself for being so suspicious when I can find ample evidence of him being able to tell the truth. But that doesn't mean that he will be reliable at crucial times.

DH's mom was very lenient too, and dh was kind of "bad" kid. His dad abandoned the family when he was still young, and dh became wild as a result, maybe for his dad's attention. I think DH feels grateful that his mom went easy on him. He got his kinks out, and now dh today is hard-working, decent, and empathetic. He's doing the same approach with SS as his mom did, but SS has very different sets of circumstances.

I can tell you that I won't be able to change DH in the ways that you recommend. I think my best option is to keep on just minding my own business, protecting my wallet, and then biding time until SS gets out of the house. As I said, DH already has a plan to encourage SS to leave either after college or after he starts work after high school. In the meantime, I will appreciate dh's forgiving nature when as all humans do, I mess up from time to time.

Rags's picture


Rumplestiltskin's picture

Agree. OP is being gaslit. I know that term is overused but her husband is trying to tell her that her feelings are invalid and her observations are false. He may be gaslighting himself so he can feel like this situation is ok. It isn't. 

Rags's picture

No quality parent of character would.  IMHO.

That DH had his own experience as a less than honest kid and does not hold his toxic failed family spawn accountable tells volumes of why your SS is a POS who dates a POS.


tryingjusttrying's picture

I'm listening, and again, I feel validated when I read that I may be being gaslit by dh. Intentionally or unintentionally, I do know that dh is predisposed not to hear negativity about his son. DH grew up in a small town, and was labeled a bad kid for his wild behavior after his dad left him and dh was shunned. What he really sought was a father figure to embrace him and guide him. This experience brought him so much hurt and shame and it makes DH highly intolerant about anyone making any judgments on anyone else, especially SS.

He and I can't discuss SS's behaviors if DH keeps thinking that I'm condemning SS as a human being every time, but I think that's what any ciriticism of SS triggers in dh. All he can hear is me rejecting SS's humanity, which no one deserves. DH instead would rather attribute any criticisms to the judger (me as a proxy to everyone who judged him as a kid). But I think this is slowly starting to change. Just yesterday we had a conversation about SS walking around the house in his underwear. I've tried to discuss with DH multiple times that I did not feel comfortable with this. But dh usually gets mad and tells me that I want to "body shame" SS. But like lala-land said, he's 17, not 7. Finally though yesterday, I persisted (thanks to your feedback, I feel more confident in my point of view), and he finally admitted that a grown-ass 17 year old should not be walking around undressed in common spaces when other people are in the house.

Btw, SS's girlfriend and most of his friends seem super decent and nice. His girlfriend is a straight A student, and is polite. She pretty much ignores me because i'm sure SS has bad things to say about me, but I can't say that she is problematic in other ways. As for being okay with him taking cash from his dad's wallet, I don't know why. I don't think that she would do that herself, but she seems to tolerate it in SS (obviously he uses it on both of them). This fact further gaslights me. I see all these nice, decent young people who are happy to be around SS (he's kind of the class clown figure) despite me witnessing some really unfriendly behaviors by SS, like him trying to get all of his friends to gang up and bully one of them for not hanging out with them as much. It makes me think that dh is right, that I'm the only one with the problem with SS because I'm too judgemental and mean-spirited. That what he's doing is not so bad.

Thank you for your feedback. It's going to be a work in progress for me, but this has helped me be a lot more confident in my own perceptions about what is going on. Even if dh does not share them, at the very least, I can be more comfortable with my own sense of what is right and wrong. That'll help me be less stressed and more clear headed even if I can't change what DH and SS do.

lala-land's picture

Madam,  How would your DH react if you wandered about the house in your bra and panties,  screaming out loud (cause you just can't control yourself), take money out of his wallet for pizza delivery and leave a general mess in your wake?   Would he treat you with a kind and gentle approach or think you had lost your mind?  Would he reprimand you and expect you to behave better?  Would he understand, that perhaps you had a tough childhood or expect you to grow up?  Would it be okay not to go to work or do chores, because you just don't feel like it or you would rather play video games and blast took tok videos?  How about lieing to him about anything you feel like lieing about.  Would that be acceptable?  Maybe even better, how would he react to you inviting some friends over, that shun him for no apparent reason?  I suspect if you did any of the above, your marriage would be over, but maybe he is just kinder and gentler and more understanding than I presume.

Harry's picture

Down to, DH must put his loyalty to you or DS.  There is no have a circus going on. SS must move out  And until he does DH must do adult time things with you. Go away for the weekend,  go on vacation by yourself.  I am talking about at least once a month there a two or three day weekend away.  
fairs, hiking, antiquing, food type. Advents    Anything to get away