I guess I just don't see where the stepmom feeling put upon, like she just can't win, like she's not appreciated, or whatever all else it is you are trying to describe - which all boils down to, the fact that the situation doesn't feel good to her - gets her off the hook for basic supervision and involvement. If the adult's inner personal feelings constitute a legitimate excuse not to provide the basics, how is that not a case of the kid having to earn his care by making the adult feel good? Shouldn't an adult take responsiblility for their own feelings, and for maintaining appropriate boundaries between their inner, adult feelings and their interactions with children, especially children they are having trouble getting close to or have mixed feelings about?
The whole family is dysfunctional, from what I've read in the 2 threads. This kid has been ignored for a long time, and dad feels fine just dumping it all off on the stepmom, who either won't or can't (whichever it is) deal with it. And, that kid is crying out for help, and dad's answer is going to be for someone else to do it. He gets to avoid the mess he created and he has someone to blame when it doesn't get fixed. How convenient for him.:
It's a hell of a lot easier to just never come home and deal with the mess you created than it is to be there, isn't it? That is what makes me think dad is more at fault. If nothing else, stepmom is at least making sure he gets fed and goes to school, however inadequate that is. She's no saint, but she isn't the primary cause of this situation. Everyone in this man's life is aware of how much they matter, I'd bet.