Step-parenting/Parenting a child who I feel is in part "special needs" - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 3 Old 02-14-2012, 03:42 PM - Thread Starter
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I need help. I feel like we are going crazy at home and we have no ideas on how to parent our increasingly difficult son (my stepson) and not sure of techniques to try. I need help.


I don't want to sound mean about him and stay objective but I am starting to have a bit of resentment in having to deal with him-he tries to absorb all attention around him all the time and we have other children (5 and 1.5)



There is much more to the story but a short form: Dh and I have been together for about 3 years plus friends before this. He had one son, now 9.5, with his ex. His ex is very difficult. She has definite mental illness-bipolar perhaps with borderline personality disorder.  She herself thinks she has BPD and I think a lot of this has been passed onto my stepson. She is really "off" a lot. Outbursts, mean, totally different person, every hostile parenting thing in the book. Verbally and emotionally abusive to dh, extremely unpredictable. Enables son to the point of taking off his jacket, etc. He's in grade 4.




Grade 4. Excellent reading ability-a couple grades above at least.

Great marks in class-so far.

Teacher has difficulty with him because he tries to act like he is an adult and give others advice, etc. Has attitude that he is "right"  all the time. Has been (teacher) dealing with increasingly rebellious (rude) behaviour.

He is very smart. He seems to get along with his peers. 


He is extremely competetive. Insanely competetive actually-not just with sports but with other stuff.

Attitude that he is hard done by and deserves more than others. Ie/freaked out at xmas time that another kid got two candy canes and he got 1. He is 9.

Learned helplessless. Ie/looking for pencil in house. Breaks down and cries before looking. Dramatic crying-loud, etc. This happens ALL the time. He scares the other children with his "odd" crying outbursts. Ie/ You need to get a water before you do this. (crying outburst, loud...not real crying-it's hard to explain)

He will not think for himself. He will stand there and say I don't know where to find my lunchkit (?). He hates doing anything for himself whereas the 5 year old is like "what is the problem?" The 5 year old has to tell him explanations, etc all the time (he does without prompt) and then my stepson gets jealous or mad.

He can be very manipulative. In many ways. In secret, I have seen him bodycheck the 5 year old or tease him until he gets upset and then lies. He is starting to lie a lot. He blames anything and anyone even if he wasn't going to get in trouble. He excuses everything. It's not just an age appropriate amount-it's so much it's raising huge red flags.



Part of the issue is that he can sometimes say sorry (hardly ever) but doesn't "get" it. Doesn't get "why" something might not be apprioriate or "what" you should do (apologize), etc. No matter how much reinforcing or explaning-he just is blank and doesn't get it. He has a few social cue things that he misses as well like that. It's very hard to explain but it feels like we are working with a very difficult 2 year old. I mean-he is smart-why are there so many things he doesn't "get"? He reads science facts and has a great memory and seems relatively "okay" but since I have met him in the beginning-I knew something is not quite right. Could he have BPD? Or a degree of ASD? Or something? Counseling has gone no where. He is with his very unstable (emotionally) mom for 60% or 50% of the time-she is highly controlling over visits, etc for no particular reason.


Any experience with this?


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#2 of 3 Old 02-14-2012, 04:59 PM
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I woulld suggest you have in evaluated at school and by a developmental psycologist.  It sounds like he could use the support of some conseling as well.  What you describe could be some sort of disability, but that's not something you should try to diagnose on your own.  Many of the things you are describing overlap in symptoms. 


But my other concern at the moment is the fact that you say you are beginning to resent him.  I would suggest getting conseling for yourself in order to deal with your feelings towards him.  It sounds like his brain may work differently from yours regardless of what dx he may recieve.  As the adult and his step-mom, it is your responsibility to learn to communitcate with him in a manner he can understand, not the otherway around at this point.  You need to be patient with the fact that he very well may not understand things the way you do. 



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#3 of 3 Old 02-14-2012, 06:56 PM - Thread Starter
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Thank you for your reply. Very true. I have to get some counseling as well. I have a 5.5 year old very much hyperactive ADHD and I am diag combined-type ADHD which makes it really difficult. I am definitely having a hard time. We have to have set boundaries in our house-respect rules, etc.  It can get quite chaotic and I just don't know how to "let it all go" because the other kids pick up on it quickly. Especially my 5 year old. When he doesn't disagree with anything-you would never know there were any difficulties with behaviour.


What kind of things can we say are not negotiable for rules in the house in terms of respect? How much do you let slide? So, we should continue being strict with a consequence for the 5 year old and not the 9 year old? I'm just so confused. He wants differential treatment-he even makes comments like he wants to be babied, wish other people would do things for him here like his mom, etc.



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