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I am having a hard time accepting my SS - help

Minnesotaguy11's picture

Hello, I am new to the forum and to being a stepparent. We have been married for 4 months but together for about a year and a half.

We have two children that are from her last marriage with her late husband. They are 4. My SD is a pretty typical 4 year old. She has her tantrums when she is tired or when she really wants something. So let’s say it is once every couple weeks. My SS on the other had has a sensory diagnosis and a DD and speech diagnosis. He will have a tantrum every time he is asked to do something. ( wash hands, go potty, clean up, request to turn the tv on denied, turn the tv off, get undressed/dressers, unwanted trash and the list goes on.

We have gone to therapy for him, gotten sensory help and there are 3-4 major meltdowns a week peppered with smaller ones. They are physical ones where he hits or bites his BM or his sister or will throw something or have a full tantrum on the floor with feet kicking and such. There have been a couple incidences where he has taken frustration out on our dogs by slapping them or pulling a tail.

He has come a ways because it used to be a meltdown daily and twice or more a day. The help I am asking for is that I am finding myself running out of patience because there is no waiting him out. The things he has a tantrum over are things he has done a million times so they are not things that are new and we have been trying everything like using timers and giving warning for unwanted activities. There are times when there is no issue but it is more often than not a problem.

Recently, I was so upset about him that I just went into our bedroom to cool off and my wife confronted me and I said somethings that I didn’t mean - fully but she threw out the either get used to this or get out.

I used to be able to tolerate his behaviors and remain calm but I am finding it so much harder to maintain my calm. And I think part of it is that my wife has a tendency to message me when I’m not home and she is and tell me about naughty things he is doing. I love my wife but I am not eager to come home from work because I dread dealing with my SS and I dread looking at him. I know he is young with a disability but I struggling to find compassion and love for my SS and I feel like a piece of shit saying that but I am worn thin and don’t know what to do. Thoughts and ideas are welcome.

notasm3's picture

My advice is to get out. Your wife doesn’t seem to want to parent him and your SS has major issues that are probably just going to get worse. My SS now in his 30s was recommended for his first psychiatric inpatient stay by age 5. DH and BM actually did try everything. Psychiatric care, rehabs, even juvie. He’s beaten up people and been beaten up himself. As he’s legally been an adult for years I have totally banned him from my life. Which is something you cannot do with. 4 year old that lives with you.

concerned86's picture

I feel you, really I do. Granted my SS doesn't have a a disorder, but he has communication and social issues and is scared of everything, always afraid he's in trouble. My husband and I have never seen eye to eye concerning him. I am at my wits end too. So I can relate, not in the exact same way as you, but enough to let you know, you are not alone in your ways of thinking. I recently wrote a blog tonight if you want to look at it, it may help you with your perspective as well. Have a good night!

MoominMama's picture

I think there have been quite a few on here with stepkids on the AS spectrum or ODD etc. Myself included. I think he might well be in the right place because the issue is not really the autism/behvaviour but that his wife and he cannot agree over how this is dealt with.

OP, you have so many years ahead with this child and he may never launch. Sometimes they improve and can be livable with for a non blood related parent but very often not. It all depends on whether you can work together to make life with him bearable. Sounds like that isn't the case and I am led to agree that it might be better for you all for you to leave. I mean this in the kindest way. Good luck.

MoominMama's picture

I can't offer him help because his wife obviously does not want to do anything but kow tow to her son. She does not want the hard work of trying to improve his behaviour so that means nothing can change. It is not HIS decision. His decision is: can I live with this ? His wife has made her position clear by saying 'get used to this or get out'. I think that statement is very clear. No help in the world from me or any other is going to help him with that.

It's no good picking a fight with me over whether there are or aren't any step parents with special needs children here. There are. Attacking me for the fact that I didn't go in there telling him what to do with a child that 1) is not his responsibility 2) he has no say over, makes it pointless.
If it were the bio parent asking what can I do I may well have made suggestions or tried to help.

Why are certain people always wanting to make a fight on here? Just because I stated something different to you doesn't mean I am wrong. It just means I disagree.

theoldredhen's picture

Parenting a child with ODD is a tremendous challenge to any parent since these children are very difficult to control. Unlike normal kids, they do not respond to standard interventions such as timeouts, loss of electronic privileges or grounding. Because of their combativeness and temper tantrums whenever crossed, the child with ODD is, frankly, not very likeable.

Having to tolerate a child so obnoxious that his own mother is barely able to cope with him must be a terrible trial for you. He is not related to you and therefore, is not entitled to the unconditional love expected from a biological parent.

When things have reached the point where you dread coming home from work and dread even looking at your SS, it’s time to rethink your relationship. Do you really suppose that you will be capable of accepting an unsettled home life for the next 15 years? You’ve stated that you love your wife but, at my age, I've discovered that love does not conquer all; not by a long shot!

Taking on someone else’s children in a marriage is extremely difficult and stressful. When one of the stepchildren is already making your life miserable, after only 4 months, I have grave doubts as to your relationship lasting. You do not sound like a happy man.

Thumper's picture

Sir, it is ok to say I made a mistake and file for divorce. There is nothing wrong with knowing YOUR limits.

Disneyfan's picture

If his wife is smart, she will realize that she made a mistake and file for divirce.

No child should have to live in a home with a man or woman who feels this way about him/her.

MoominMama's picture

and no husband/wife should have to live in a home where the bio parent is not willing to help the situation or improve the child's behaviour. It seems OP either wasn't aware or underestimated how difficult this situation can be. Would have been the same for me if my DH hadn't wanted to work on his childs problems (as far as it is possible ofc). We all make mistakes especially when we are in love and want things to work out.

Disneyfan's picture

No adult is forced to live in a home where be/she isn't happy. His wife has made it clear that he can get used to her reality or he can leave. Kudos to her for not putting her special needs child on the back burner just to hold onto a man.

The OP didn't say his wife isn't doing anything about her son's behaviors. It sounds like she is doing what she can,(diagnosis,therapy...)

simifan's picture

Wow. Have we all become so jaded we put words in other people's mouths?

Raising a child with a disability is hard, frustrating, and even the best of us have difficulties. Even more so because he is not your biological child - you see his flaws clearly. You do not have unconditional love for him as his mother does. I would agree with steprightoff you are probably not in the right place. Try a support group for children with disabilities - if you can find one dedicated to steps all the better. However, Goodluck also makes a valid point. It is okay to say I made a mistake. I cannot do this and ask for divorce.

Ispofacto's picture

I had three children, and one of them was different since birth. It was a bad decision on my part to have a baby with a psychopath. I thought children were blank slates when they are born, but they are not. DS22 looks normal, but he is not. His disability is almost on par with down's syndrome. He was medicated on Concerta.

It was hard to make it to 18. He was a handful and nothing I did helped. It was exhausting. I have done a lot of research on this and I now know that his brain is not normal. He hates being the way he is, and it is my fault. My other two children are very successful, and I always wished the same for him.

Now he is out of the house and DH and I are glad he doesn't live with us. We love him, but we do not coddle or enable him. His is not full blown sociopath, but has strong tendencies. Experts say the disorder gets milder with age. He has a roof over his head and food to eat, and he hasn't been in jail as an adult, so I consider that a success. But I feel guilty every day.

It is quite possible there is little your wife can do and she is probably frustrated. The only thing you can do is disengage, or leave.

JoJolj's picture

I feel rather than throw in the towel, as you got married (remember the settling in period takes ages wish step families) give your wife and these kids a chance. Discuss calmly with your wife how you feel. Maybe suggest she doesn’t text you continuously about her son during the day. Tell her in a heart to heart way how you feel. It’s a tough situation all round. I have a 11 year old on the spectrum and it’s not easy at all. Your wife needs your support but she also needs to understand your feelings and what YOU need for This to work. 


Good luck 

pineapple1's picture

You married your love with the best of intentions. It's impossible to predict how home life under one roof will be until you've lived it. You are not a bad person for not being able to cope with this child's disabilities. Like you, I tried this and it only intensified at puberty. I'm an educator with a masters degree and I'm still floored when parents let feeling badly for their child trump consistent handing of behaviors. While it's hard on all at first when expectations/consequences are made clear, there would be respite and progress if it's continued. Unfortunately, in my case as well, the inconsistency only confused my stepson until he figured out how to manipulate as he got older.

If family counseling, therapy and protocols are bucked by your wife; it may be time to temporarily step away. 

I wish you luck, your attempt is admirable, but you can't allow yourself to be this upset at home. Home is supposed to be the highlight of your world. I tried this for 5 years, change never happened, and I wish I had excused myself with grace for what it is sooner.