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SS14 going on 4

Ghost22's picture

Hi folks,

Question for the group... from what I've read there are many immature skids... my SS14 is bad. He acts like a toddler and, in fact, seeks DD2 out as his playmate. He takes no initiative socially with peers his own age and follows DH around like a lost puppy waiting for him to occupy his time. Stage 5 clinger. 

DH is a recovering Disney dad who, at times, has slip ups rooted in guilt. I feel these slips only reinforce SS to act the way he does. 

What works? Shame? Being direct? Ignoring him? There are no MH issues in play (he's been evaluated, sees a therapist, etc.) BM is also an adult child so I'm afraid many of his behaviors have been learned, and even reinforced when he is with her. AKA act like a helpless, ditsy ass to get their needs met.... I have disengaged and essentially just ignore him... the problem is that when he's with us he is ALWAYS around.

DH and I can't even go to the grocery store without this kid wanting to tag along as that is the hilight of his day... I guess my question is, what (if anything) can I do to get this kid to grow up and act a bit closer to 14 than 4? DH contradicts himself swaying between "this is just his personality" and "give it time and he will grow out of it." I definitely need some advice guys otherwise this will be the summer from hell...

Thank you in advance 

MamaKelly_2020's picture

Are any of these behaviors dangerous or a problem? He might just be a shy kid. It took a long time for my brother to come out of his shell but he grew into a very independant and successful adult. As long as he isn't having outbursts that are disruptive I think the best way to deal with it would be to treat him with kindness but challenge him to be more capable - i.e. if he's being ditsy, ask what his thought process was to arrive at a silly conclusion and explain (without shaming) why his answer is incorrect, or enroll him into activities with peers his age during his time with you, etc etc. IDK the whole situation though but I didn't see any specific harmful behaviors listed here (except maybe a little codependency).

Ghost22's picture

Thank you for your reply. Nothing harmful physically... he's never acted out in a physical way... it's more manipulative (if a 14 year old can even be manipulative... not sure). I'd describe his behavior as more disruptive and/or emotional harmful... 

If he's not the center of attention, he is VERY attention seeking. When he doesn't get the attention he wants- things get bad. He will make accusation about DH to pick a fight "all you do is scream, "you chocked me once" (never happened), "you hit people" (again, never..) etc etc.

Once after a particularly rough SS outburst DH just walked away- not wanting to entertain his rediculous accusations. The next morning when SS tried to change his tune, "I never said you choked me- I just said you shook me and it felt like you chocked me", bullshit. I called him out and he just left for school on the bus without saying a word. He tried to change his tune because he wanted DH to buy him a stuffed animal... 

I'd sum it up to say, he acts 4 and when he doesn't get what he wants, he is disruptive and manipulative. On a selfish note, it's also embarrassing to be around in public... I just don't want to be around him... 

Rags's picture

Next year, he is old enough to get a job.  Force that to happen.  With this kid, this is a definate hill to die on IMHO.

Start the discussion with DH now so you have him tuned that having a job will be a maturing experience for SS.

Ghost22's picture

Agreed. An allowance isn't enough... he needs actual responsibility and accountability. 

hereiam's picture

Your DH should be teaching him to grow up, give him some responsibilities, enroll him in activities (as mentioned above). Maybe if he learns things and has more confidence in himself, he will be more social and actually make some friends.

Also, people who think that they always need to be the center of attention, need to go out and about so they can see that there is more to the universe than themselves. In my opinion, they need to visit some nursing homes and volunteer in some homeless shelters. They need to do for others and be humbled.

What happened to your DH's one-on-one time with his son, where he can take him out and do things? Productive, life teaching things?

Ghost22's picture

All excellent points. I completely agree SS needs to see the world as bigger than himself. 

It's only been a couple of weeks since that post about the one:one time. DH definitely views the one:one time differently than I do (I agree with you). DH has made efforts to intentionally connect with SS (if we're going somewhere as a family he will make an effort to really hilight his voice, etc). If we're out, DH will buy SS a bag of candy as he thinks it will make him feel special. After taking with DH I think it's less about having one:one time with SS but more about making him feel special. 

The more I think about it, I think this is a multi layered issue. DH and I agree SS needs to act more age appropriate... we are just very different in our approach. SS feels special when he's the center of attention,  infantalized and coddled- it's hard to be around. I don't feed into it and for the most part neither does DH.... the problem IMO is that  DH doesn't address and correct behaviors directly and consistently so even though SS mostly doesn't get what he wants- he never really stops.

Harry's picture

He should be making SS grow up instead of buying him candy.   He should give him things to do. Make him volunteer in some type of group. Help in hospitals, food bank, feeding the homeless  make him join something so he with kids his age.  He should be doing things with SS together as helping with a food bank. Clean up the neighborhood or parks. 
Anything to just get out of the house and do something 

Ghost22's picture

Hi Harry,

I agree with you... I just don't know what I can say or do to get DH to see past the guilt and handle things differently. 

Wicked stepmo.'s picture

I agree with Harry SS should be given some responsibility, volunteer, join a club or play sports. Interact with other adults and peers to develop social skills. 

But since it sounds like you DH is as blind as my SO your best bet is to disengage. Make a point with DH by planning errands or activities without DH and SS when SS is around. When DH says something be honest about how you feel about SSs behavior and that since you have no say regarding SS you are choosing not to deal with it. 


Ghost22's picture

I have disengaged but to a point... when I'm not around SS pulls all kinds of bullshit with DH- ultimately trying to make him feel guilty. When I'm around he knows he can't get away with it. Makes me want to be around so that I don't need to deal with a guilt ridden DH. 

Disengageme's picture

Maybe you can set dh down and have a talk. Tell him your concerns. I hope you have a hubby that listens because I sure don't. I'm accused of hating him because I ask for some rules and structure. My ss11 talks in a whiny baby voice, pees all over the toilet, sneaks food into the baby's room, and refuses to eat what we fix. He will only eat junk and dh complies. He's a total Disney dad. If he does make ss help him around the house he sneaks off to eat junk. I'm glad he's only here part time. He's possibly going to be here full time and I don't think my marriage will last long when that happens. I wish I had better advice to offer but I can't get through to my dh much if any.  

Ghost22's picture

I have what I call a Disney Dad in recovery. Mentally, he completely gets it. Emotionally he's often driven by guilt.

When it comes to discipline, he can be inconsistent which is definitely an issue. For little annoyances DH seems oblivious... SS threw himself into the meat counter at the grocery store and then walked up to DH pretending to be injured. I saw the whole thing- when DH was concerned I said "look at those acting skills! We should sign you up for an acting camp!". That's didn't go well with SS he sulked the remainder of the trip.

SS is quite literally the only thing DH and I argue about. When I bring him up- DH instantly gets defensive. 

Rags's picture

My wife and I used to have three fights. THe first was how to deal with the SpermClan. That fight became moot when SS turned 18 and they stopped just about all interface with him and permanently crawled back under their rock. For some reason they insisted on continously re-emerged to ply their shit periodically for the duration of the CO.

The second fight was how to deal with my ILs and their manipulative undermining activities with each other.   She finally had enough and called the out on it which induced a shit storm of monumental proportion initially but ultimatly got everyone aligned and delivered a pretty decent new direction for the whole family.

The third was division of household duties.  We both detest that crap and it was a nagging topic of arguement for a number of years.  I started an incremental solution process beginning with outsourcing the lawn care.  Then we moved over seas where all but the basic laundry and dishes was outsourced.  Interestingly... after we returned to the States after 8-ish years as expats with house keeping services we never really fought about it again.  During my 2 year mid career involuntary intermittant consulting period I had no issue with keeping the house presentable and cooked nearly all of the meals, or at least dinner, for that period.

Somewhere in the nearly 27 years of our marriage, we grew up regarding this issue.  Who woulda thunk it?