My step son is coming to stay....... Help!!!! Another UPDATE No 53 - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 88 Old 10-21-2009, 03:39 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Ok, before I get to the point, I have ZERO problems with step son coming to stay, he is my husbands son, and even though I have not had much contact with step son, I like him and I want what is best for him what ever that may be and I hope he feels comfortable here.

Secondly, this isn't just about step parenting which is why I have brought it here, it is about parenting in general because step son has a few issues.

Ok, bit of back ground. DHs relationship with his ex has been volatile in the past. This has meant long stretches with DH not being able to see his son, even when orders were placed for visitation. Not only that, but DH has also had many health problems in the past few years which has made it very difficult for him to keep up visitation but he has always tried to keep in contact.

Anyway, it turns out DHs ex has been hiding some stuff as has the step son and it finally all came out yesterday.

I walked in on DH having a phone call with the ex, I overheard a few things and figured that a) Z (SS) might be coming to stay and b) there are some issues with Z.

DH told his ex it would be fine for Z to stay with us (he didn't ask me but he figured rightly that I would be fine with it, Z is a part of the family after all).

Once the phone call had finished I asked him what was happening (we are skint so I need to be able to arrange finances in advance).

He said that Z might be coming to stay during half term, he still has ask Z, he doesn't want Z to see this as the parents ganging up on him etc. DH wants Z to make the decision, if he says no (chances are he won't) then we will cross that bridge when we come to it. Probably by explaining that we feel it is a good idea for him and his mum to have some time out because they both need a rest.

The problems are as follows:

Z is 13 (newly 13).

He has been drinking (alcohol)
Smoking (possibly weed as well)
Shouting and swearing at his mum and teachers
Stealing
Just generally hanging with the wrong crowd and being somewhat naughty.

He is overweight, apparently it has gotten to the point where locks are being involved with the food cupboards (although I wouldn't be surprised if the munchies had something to do with this).

From what I can gather, social services is getting involved and he is close to being expelled from his school.

We don't know yet, but him staying with us may become a more permanent thing.


Staying with us is always a HUGE change for him, we are veggies, we homeschool, we generally don't shout and we don't smack, the complete opposite of where he comes from. He generally responds very well to our lifestyle although he wasn't smoking and drinking that we know of last time he stayed.

I kinda hope it does turn into a more permanent thing, I think his mum has done the job up until this point, her relationships have never worked out so she has been pretty much a single parent the whole time and maybe a change will do both of them an awful lot of good! It is only fair that we take on some of the problems. I just wish she had come to us sooner about this, but understandably, considering the relationship between DH and herself, she might not have felt comfortable.

Soooooooooooooooooooo.

What do we do about the smoking when he comes down? Obviously he has to quit, but it seems really mean making him go cold turkey (here I have to admit that I have failed at quitting smoking this year).

What about the drinking? I feel that maybe, rather than making him stop completely, it would be better if maybe we took the opportunity to show him controlled drinking? I don't know, if say, we were to wait until the girls were in bed, we had a special meal and allowed him a small beer with it or something? Or should we just cut out the alcohol completely?

I just don't want us to go so far to one side that pushes him even further the other way, ya know?

I know that Z also has sleep issues, he will literally lie in bed for hours and hours and hours and not be able to fall asleep. I think that maybe this has to do with his feelings and thoughts, so, I am planning on getting DH to take him to our Doctor to see what she says about some of this but particularly the sleep thing. I know it might sound crazy, but if there is anything that can help him a get a decent nights sleep, I would prefer him to have it. DH also has serious sleep problems and I know how that affects him.

I just want to make sure that while Z is here, we give him the best opportunities, I want him to feel welcome, want him to feel free to talk when he needs too. I just want him to know that we are here, that he won't be pressured.................

At the moment, it looks like he is staying with us next week and over christmas. As I said, I hope we have longer with him because I think there is a lot of work to do with him (without him knowing it lol).

A little bit more background:

DH had a messed up childhood and has a wild streak, so we kinda know where some of this is coming from, I suspect it is partly genes and also partly the way that Z has been brought up, not saying his mum is crap, but it hasn't been easy for any of them.

I had a difficult childhood, I know what I wanted and I want to try to give him that, not saying that I want to give him what I wished I had had because obviously we are different people, I just think being treated with respect and sensitivity is a necessary thing for a child and I want to get this right with him while he is still young.

Underneath all of this, Z is a good, caring, loving kid. He has the possibility of a bright future ahead of him, we just need to help him realise that and guide him down the right paths. I just need some help cos I WAS the bad kid, I was never the parent to a 'supposedly' bad kid lol.
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#2 of 88 Old 10-21-2009, 03:39 AM - Thread Starter
 
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OMG, sorry, its such a huge post.
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#3 of 88 Old 10-21-2009, 03:42 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Sorry, just to add, Z has had a really rough time at school with teachers, bullying etc. Should I just hold off on that aspect or do you think it would be a good idea to do some fun educational stuff as well. I am thinking a couple of trips out, maybe take him a long to our home schooling group etc? Not to push education on him but so he kinda learns while doing so that he can see what it should be like? (Ok, that is not supposed to sound like home schooling is the only way to go, I just mean, that education should be fun and interesting).
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#4 of 88 Old 10-21-2009, 03:58 AM
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I would say completely no to the drinking. It's just really bad for young teens, and it's not highly addictive like cigarettes. I think you're on the right track with everything else. Quitting cigarettes is very hard and the emotional and social issues are more important. Just having some goals for cutting back would be a start. With the behavior and sleep issues he could even be bipolar. I would think that locking up the food would just make things worse. Having only healthy options around can be better for weight loss anyway.
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#5 of 88 Old 10-21-2009, 04:08 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Yup, ok, well we rarely have treats around, in fact, the favorite foods in this house are chickpeas, carrots and apples, so he is going to have a hard time finding much unhealthy lol!!!! I also go to the gym so was thinking about seeing if he wanted to come down and have a go on the rower etc. He always loses a lot of weight when he is here soooooooooo, fingers crossed.
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#6 of 88 Old 10-21-2009, 05:34 AM
 
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I think you need counseling in place if he is going to live with you full time. These problems are not going to be fixed by healthy food and an alcohol-free house. Your husband could possibly get some ideas from talking with the school counselor. If a 13-year old is expelled, they get sent to a public alternative school, right?

My cousin's kid knew he was in trouble when he came home from school one day and found BOTH of his bio parents sitting at the kitchen table. The bio parents had been apart for years and did not get along, so for them to cooperate on an intervention plan was a huge step. You need an intervention plan with respect to alcohol, drugs, smoking, school attendance, etc - so he is not in a position to choose between strict rules with one parent and lax rules with the other.

good luck!
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#7 of 88 Old 10-21-2009, 09:56 AM
 
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It sounds like you are going to be a great help to him. I think counciling is definitely in order. As far as the sleeping, maybe if you can get him exercising and eating well, that might have a big effect on his sleeping. As far as the drinking, I would say, absolutely not. For one thing, social services is involved, and I don't think they would look kindly on it, not to mention health effects on a very early teen.

 
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#8 of 88 Old 10-21-2009, 10:13 AM
 
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First, it's great that you want to help this lad make some healthy changes in his life. At 13 y.o., he has to be the one to really want to make the changes.

I've cut and highlighted from your first post:

Quote:
Originally Posted by tireesix View Post


The problems are as follows:

Z is 13 (newly 13).

He has been drinking (alcohol)
Smoking (possibly weed as well)
Shouting and swearing at his mum and teachers
Stealing
Just generally hanging with the wrong crowd and being somewhat naughty.

He is overweight, apparently it has gotten to the point where locks are being involved with the food cupboards (although I wouldn't be surprised if the munchies had something to do with this).

...............
What do we do about the smoking when he comes down? Obviously he has to quit, but it seems really mean making him go cold turkey (here I have to admit that I have failed at quitting smoking this year).

What about the drinking? I feel that maybe, rather than making him stop completely, it would be better if maybe we took the opportunity to show him controlled drinking? I don't know, if say, we were to wait until the girls were in bed, we had a special meal and allowed him a small beer with it or something? Or should we just cut out the alcohol completely?

I just don't want us to go so far to one side that pushes him even further the other way, ya know?

I know that Z also has sleep issues, he will literally lie in bed for hours and hours and hours and not be able to fall asleep. I think that maybe this has to do with his feelings and thoughts, so, I am planning on getting DH to take him to our Doctor to see what she says about some of this but particularly the sleep thing. I know it might sound crazy, but if there is anything that can help him a get a decent nights sleep, I would prefer him to have it. DH also has serious sleep problems and I know how that affects him.

I just want to make sure that while Z is here, we give him the best opportunities, I want him to feel welcome, want him to feel free to talk when he needs too. I just want him to know that we are here, that he won't be pressured.................


I would probably start early on with a family meeting to let him know he's welcome, let him talk about anything that's bothering him and to set out some house standards - like no shouting and swearing and no smoking.

You plan on taking him to see a doctor about the sleep issues. I would make the appointment soon, and discuss help to stop smoking. You mention that you are/were a smoker - I'm not clear on whether you have stopped. If you still smoke, perhaps the two of you could stop together, and be each other's support. If there are any other smokers in the house (your dh?), they should all join in. I don't think there's much chance that the boy will stop smoking if there are other smokers in the house. He will be looking for role-models.

It seems like you might be considering aids for sleep. If he improves his activity level and diet, he may find that he doesn't need any meds. I'd try this route first. Again, discuss it with the doctor, but I'd be surprised if s/he offers a medication to someone so young without a few lifestyle changes first. Perhaps a long family ramble or bike ride every day during the holidays will help.

Rather than locking up food cupboards (his mom's tactic), I like your plan to have only healthy foods available to him. He may spend his pocket money on sweets, but again modelling is important.

The drinking is a tough issue. I believe that some children can be invited to controlled drinking without harm. I think for others, it doesn't work. If there is a family history of substance addiction or poor control and impulsive behaviour, I would be very careful about making alcohol available even with your supervision.

On the education issue, I would invite him along if you have an event, just as you would any of the children. I don't think I would directly deal with his education at this point, during holidays. It sounds like he has enough to deal with right now. I would include him in activities your own children are doing, and let him observe for himself the difference in learning. I'd also look for things that excite him and encourage his interests in them.

Some of this may feel like pressure to him - stopping smoking and the change in diet and activity. I would try to avoid emphasizing the negative (nagging that he's overweight so he shouldn't snack, or he's been in trouble - not that you would say those things) and emphasize the positive (encourage him if he chooses a healthy snack, tell him how much you appreciate his kindness to the smaller children in the house etc.).

Best of luck.
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#9 of 88 Old 10-21-2009, 11:32 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tireesix View Post
What do we do about the smoking when he comes down? Obviously he has to quit, but it seems really mean making him go cold turkey (here I have to admit that I have failed at quitting smoking this year).

What about the drinking? I feel that maybe, rather than making him stop completely, it would be better if maybe we took the opportunity to show him controlled drinking? I don't know, if say, we were to wait until the girls were in bed, we had a special meal and allowed him a small beer with it or something? Or should we just cut out the alcohol completely?
I absolutely would not allow him to drink. this seems like a much bigger problem to me than smoking. MUCH BIGGER. Responsible drinking...that ship has already sailed. As for smoking there is not much you can do at this point. Kids will sneak around and get ciggarettes etc. Even as a child I was shocked at how everyone always seemed to have smokes....i still don't get where all these cigarettes are coming from...but....you can place strict limits on it. he buys his own. only outside. only where the littles cannot see. Of course these limits will have to apply to everyone in the house to be effective. As for alcohol. Absolutely not. He is 13. Barely. He has already done irreversible damage to his body by drinking excessively. I think it is a great idea for everyone to quit smoking together!!!!!


Quote:
I know that Z also has sleep issues, he will literally lie in bed for hours and hours and hours and not be able to fall asleep. I think that maybe this has to do with his feelings and thoughts, so, I am planning on getting DH to take him to our Doctor to see what she says about some of this but particularly the sleep thing. I know it might sound crazy, but if there is anything that can help him a get a decent nights sleep, I would prefer him to have it. DH also has serious sleep problems and I know how that affects him.
I think now would be a good time to seek medical and pshychiatric help. Depending on how much drinking he has been doing and what kind of grip this has on him he may need more help than you can give him. Plus there is the weight issues and whatever led to all this mess. I mean not a high pressure thing but sometimes it is just time for a man to have a physical. and the counseling...he has got to see that coming.

Quote:
Sorry, just to add, Z has had a really rough time at school with teachers, bullying etc. Should I just hold off on that aspect or do you think it would be a good idea to do some fun educational stuff as well. I am thinking a couple of trips out, maybe take him a long to our home schooling group etc? Not to push education on him but so he kinda learns while doing so that he can see what it should be like? (Ok, that is not supposed to sound like home schooling is the only way to go, I just mean, that education should be fun and interesting).
I certainly don't see any reason to hold off on activities. Seeing that there are better options will probably give him hope. i wouldn't jump in with a boxed curriculum. maybe offer him some projects of his choosing to work on. something to keep his mind and body engaged in a learning process. Keep boredom from setting in. He might be surprised at how smart he is or how much he enjoys something. Perhaps you could approach it with "I still need time to work with the kids on school, I don't think we need to worry about school for you for now but I thought maybe if there was something you were interested in learning more about (suggest some things along the lines of his interest or go to a hobby shop or something and browse) we would be more than happy to get you some supplies and help you in any way we could" or if there were some cool classes he might be interested in (home schoo, community ed or whatever - i think doing something with a mixed age group would be good for him)

I wouldn't wax on about how cool homeschool kids are or push relationships with homeschooled kids. Let him make those judgments. but you will be giving him an oppritunity to meet people of all ages. it will incorperate him into your family. and he will have a chance to get to know his siblings and what their life is like.

the weight issue - I wouldn't really worried about it. The worst thing he is putting into his body is alchohol (SOOOOO many calories. they don't call it a beer gut for nothing) and that is being cut out hopefully. also you will be offering him healthy food that will meet his nutritional needs. other than that getting in shape will have to be his choice. be there to help if he decides he wants to get in shape but at his age a few simple changes will go a long way. at the same time he is old enough that this has to be his choice and his motivation. i mean let me tell you. when there are no chips in the house my munching goes way down. rummaging through the cabnets for brown rice and opening the fridge and finding carrots and broccoli are just not the same no need to lock that stuff up. We stuill eat junk food around here (chips, cookies, pop) but we buy them when we have a craving or want them as part of a meal. we eat them all that night. done. there are four of us and a really cute puppy who begs successfully so a bag of chips or two liter of pop is just about right for our family to have a treat. We don't feel deprived but we also don't have temptation waiting in the wings. the weight thing will work itself out. If his eating is out of control I would look for the cause of that though. uncontrolable eating seems to point to bigger problems to me though. more than the munchies.

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#10 of 88 Old 10-21-2009, 12:11 PM
 
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Lots of folks have great advice.

Lots of hugs, OP. Our oldest stepdaughter was also kept from DH for many years, until one day her mother "couldn't take her any more" and left her with us. Different issues, but really difficult adjustment for everyone. Please do get counseling and prepare for a long road.

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First of all, I wouldn't approach this with the big guns right off the bat.

Have you or DH actually observed any of this negative behavior? You said that previously when Z has stayed with you, he has adopted your lifestyles fairly well. My personal opinion is that you welcome Z with open arms and just accept him. It may be that he will be happy for the opportunity to "reinvent" himself in a new household without anyone explicitly "laying down the law". Not all smokers are addicted cigarettes and not all drinkers are addicted alcohol. We all know how kids can act so differently around different people. I'd give him a chance first.

Of course, I'd keep a vigilant eye out for anything suspicious and nip it in the bud right away. As for your smoking, I'd try to keep it out of sight of the kids because that's basically giving them the impression that smoking is "ok".

Will he be going to the same school?
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Has your DH got himself in touch with the school and social services directly? That needs to be a first step. You need to know what the school's done, see if you can get a copy of his school file (which should have a lot of information in it on what's going on, but will likely be uncomfortable reading) and the results of his optional SATS, if the school does them. There's a load of programmes available on parenting teens which should give you some ideas on this stuff, particularly the smoking and drinking - I did one called 24/7 with our local college which gave me a few more resources in the toolkit. Given that half-term has just started here, you have no time for any of this, though.

I think the kid needs to be assessed by the adolescent mental health team. IME they're very good, handle situations with kid gloves, have always seen someone who is worse off and most importantly, will be able to identify if there's any underlying conditions here: bipolar disorder, ADD/ADHD, childhood depression, and give him some tools to cope with the crap in his life. If you're considering meds for sleeping, this seems like a more logical alternative. If he does go home after half-term, it's possible that social services might be of some help in getting him there (and in) if his mum is resistant to the idea. I really do think it could be both beneficial and important, though.

As far as alcohol goes, you're talking about a drink with a meal when your daughters aren't there. That's setting off my alarm bells.What would you normally do with a 13yo?

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#13 of 88 Old 10-21-2009, 03:50 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tireesix View Post
The problems are as follows:

Z is 13 (newly 13).

He has been drinking (alcohol)
Smoking (possibly weed as well)
Shouting and swearing at his mum and teachers
Stealing
Just generally hanging with the wrong crowd and being somewhat naughty.

He is overweight, apparently it has gotten to the point where locks are being involved with the food cupboards (although I wouldn't be surprised if the munchies had something to do with this).

From what I can gather, social services is getting involved and he is close to being expelled from his school.


What do we do about the smoking when he comes down? Obviously he has to quit, but it seems really mean making him go cold turkey (here I have to admit that I have failed at quitting smoking this year).

What about the drinking? I feel that maybe, rather than making him stop completely, it would be better if maybe we took the opportunity to show him controlled drinking? I don't know, if say, we were to wait until the girls were in bed, we had a special meal and allowed him a small beer with it or something? Or should we just cut out the alcohol completely?

I just don't want us to go so far to one side that pushes him even further the other way, ya know?

I know that Z also has sleep issues, he will literally lie in bed for hours and hours and hours and not be able to fall asleep. I think that maybe this has to do with his feelings and thoughts, so, I am planning on getting DH to take him to our Doctor to see what she says about some of this but particularly the sleep thing. I know it might sound crazy, but if there is anything that can help him a get a decent nights sleep, I would prefer him to have it. DH also has serious sleep problems and I know how that affects him.

I just want to make sure that while Z is here, we give him the best opportunities, I want him to feel welcome, want him to feel free to talk when he needs too. I just want him to know that we are here, that he won't be pressured.................

At the moment, it looks like he is staying with us next week and over christmas. As I said, I hope we have longer with him because I think there is a lot of work to do with him (without him knowing it lol).

A little bit more background:

DH had a messed up childhood and has a wild streak, so we kinda know where some of this is coming from, I suspect it is partly genes and also partly the way that Z has been brought up, not saying his mum is crap, but it hasn't been easy for any of them.

I had a difficult childhood, I know what I wanted and I want to try to give him that, not saying that I want to give him what I wished I had had because obviously we are different people, I just think being treated with respect and sensitivity is a necessary thing for a child and I want to get this right with him while he is still young.

Underneath all of this, Z is a good, caring, loving kid. He has the possibility of a bright future ahead of him, we just need to help him realise that and guide him down the right paths. I just need some help cos I WAS the bad kid, I was never the parent to a 'supposedly' bad kid lol.
It's admirable that you'e looking for the good in this kid, but right now, he's really making some pretty crummy choices.

I guess I'm less tolerant of certain behaviors, because I really wouldn't even CONSIDER being at all ok with a young teen smoking or drinking. Those behaviors will not be accepted, condoned, overlooked, tolerated, or seen as ever acceptable by a youngster in my care.

In his case, I'd make the rules pretty clear, no easing him into anything, he chose to engage in destructive behaviors, he can deal with the withdrawal etc- seems a logical consequence to me.

Controlled drinking? I grew up in a home where it was ok for the adults to have a glass of wine with dinner, or a beer in the evening- it wasn't taboo, and even as a kid, sips of wine were ok, and as a much older teen (after I'd gone to college) I might have a glass of wine etc with a special meal. However, when a kid is secretly drinking- they've missed the point of alcohol as anything other than the percieved key to a good time. They need to understand that it is NOT ok for a child to have. He also needs to understand that while he is a teen, he's still a child, and kids and adults are not the same. He needs a zero tolerance for drinking policy.

Smoking? Again, he's a child. Kids should not have the 'right' to destroy their health with a bad habit because it's hard on them to give it up.

Disrespectful behavior directed at parents and teachers- while this is part and parcel of being a teen for many- it's normally within certain boundaries. He needs to find the boundaries. If he doesn't understand where those boundaries are, you need to teach him.

You have younger children to care for. it seems to me that you have an obligation to them to create a safe and healthy environment for them. If he's going to stay with you, he has to be part of that safe and healthy environment.

I suspect the food issues and weight will resolve themselves with time and with having no access to junk food filling the cupboards.

Obviously, this boy is your husband's child, and he DOES need a change. He also needs to have firm enogh guidance to actually effect change instead of falling into the same habits in a new place.
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#14 of 88 Old 10-21-2009, 04:06 PM - Thread Starter
 
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OK, so DH and I have had a talk.

Since he is only staying for a week this time, possibly, I think that what is going to happen is that we are just going to provide him with some space so that he can talk when he wants to, if he wants to.

We will still sort out the Doctors for him to have a look at a couple of issues like the sleep.

First and foremost though, I think we just want to make him feel comfortable and see how he responds during the first couple of days and evaluate for ourselves how he is.

DH is still talking to the ex quite a bit about Z. Its up to them where they go with this, I will suggest things to DH, but when it comes to parenting Z, I stay out the way, I am not his parent and will not pretend to be, but he is usually pretty good with me anyway and I think that really, the most important thing is for DH and Z to spend some time together.

We live a bit of a way from Z and with DHs current health, I just don't think its going to be easy to get things sorted with a meeting between school, ex etc. However, I will suggest to DH that he asks the ex to allow him to talk to the school etc so they can work as a team. From what I have heard, Z does not get on at that school what so ever, he is bullied by the kids and he doesn't get on with the teachers and his mum won't do anything about it .

He is definitely coming on Saturday, thankfully, we only have healthy food in the house, zero alcohol, so really, it shouldn't be too much of an issue. DH though was understandably PO at me when I asked him whether DH would be rooting through the fridge. We have ALOT of morphine here, so I figure we are going to have to hide it but DH said that Z is not quite a junkie yet......... I didn't mean offense but I want to make sure all bases are covered.

Smoking and drug taking seems to only be in the evenings with 'friends' so we will see how that goes

Funny thing is, most people I know consider us to be very strict parents, which we are totally not, we are just respectful lol and we just believe it is common courtesy to give what you receive kinda. We don't really have rules, just the whole respect thing.

We are hoping to convince the ex to let go of Z for a while, from what I can gather, things are really bad over there. Dhs ex has done her best, we are not criticizing her at all, but, she needs a break too. Hopefully, maybe we can work something out with regards to sharing him in a way that is best for him.

We have a room he can have, the house needs ALOT of work lol but I think it is important he feels he has some space, it will involve a good old shuffle around, but I feel that Zs needs are really important at the mo (obviously, we want to fit him in without disrupting everything and I think we will manage it). Funds are going to be a major issue here but we will sort that.

I just need him to know that he is safe here.

DH and I are really, totally broken folks, who came together and kinda fixed each other up, I think we may just have it in us to fix up another . For us, feeling safe in our environment was the main thing, so hopefully, making Z feel safe AND wanted will go a long way (there are major rejection issues going on with Z at his current home).

So, fingers crossed for next week! And fingers crossed we get him for a good while longer at some point!

Oh, and I also asked my Dad if he wouldn't mind buying Z a little thing for Christmas so he doesn't feel left out and he is ok with it. So, hopefully, we have my whole family behind us as well (DHs family are all dead). My family isn't fantastic lol. Whats that thing that Stitch says in Lilo and Stitch? Isn't it something like 'they are my family, they may be broken but they are good enough'....... thats us lol.
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#15 of 88 Old 10-21-2009, 04:41 PM
 
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I would set strict rules about "no smoking in the house" and/or "no smoking in front of younger siblings", but you may not be able to get him to completely stop smoking. If he isn't addicted to niccotine yet, then telling him "no smoking" will work fine. But if he's already physically addicted, then IMO a better approach would be to let him smoke outside.

There's no need to have alcohol available to him right now. If you don't keep it in the house, then it's not available here, period. Once he's cleaned up his act a bit, it might be appropriate to offer him small, responsible amounts of alcohol in the future (I'm thinking along the lines of the 3 of you sharing a single bottle of champaign at New Year's Eve- a special occasion and a small amount.)

I don't know if he'd do well being homeschooled or if he'd do best going to your local public school. He's already a troubled teenager, and he has different needs than your own kids will likely have at that age. If he does move in with you full time, and CPS is already involved with him, expect that they will continue to supervise how he does at your home for at least a few months. You may be limited by CPS "recomendations" for him, and homeschooling might not even be an option.

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#16 of 88 Old 10-21-2009, 06:19 PM
 
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Speaking here as someone who is bipolar and started drinking really young (13, actually), the sleep and drinking may be related. If he cannot sleep, then drinking seems to calm you and let you go to sleep. Eventually too much alcohol reverses the effect, but he may have started to help solve other problems (drinking, to cover depression, etc.). The weight issues also could be related, especially if he's been depressed.

As for smoking, I don't know what I'd do. I wouldn't buy cigarettes for him, but I don't think it's very difficult for him to get cigarettes if he wants them.

I would probably give him a week or 2 to get settled in and then begin to discuss what's going on. I wouldn't expect him to change everything at once, and I think doing that will turn him away from you. I'd figure out what all of you together feel is the biggest problem and start there.

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#17 of 88 Old 10-21-2009, 09:50 PM
 
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He could be in serious trouble or it could really be not that bad at all. People tend to over or underreact to young teens so it's hard to tell until you're in the thick of it. He could have been caught with a little alcohol a couple of times and that could be solved by not keeping any around or keeping it put up and not need an intervention. I like the idea of stopping together and at least having the rule of smoking outside but you need to figure out if he's just been caught smoking a couple of times or if he's a smoker. I might take the approach of pretending there are no problems at all until there are some and just take it as it comes. You don't know how much everyone else has overreacted and what he really has issues with. Keep the alcohol put away and wait till he makes some of these mistakes before you make him guilty. Defensiveness and humiliation are huge factors to kids that age and you could escalate it by treating him like a problem child. A change of scenery might be just the thing. TREAT HIM LIKE THE GREAT KID YOU KNOW HIM TO BE and make little adjustments as needed. I do think it's a great idea to see a doc about his sleep....seriously that is enough to drive people to coping mechanisms.
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#18 of 88 Old 10-22-2009, 03:55 AM
 
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We live a bit of a way from Z and with DHs current health, I just don't think its going to be easy to get things sorted with a meeting between school, ex etc. However, I will suggest to DH that he asks the ex to allow him to talk to the school etc so they can work as a team. From what I have heard, Z does not get on at that school what so ever, he is bullied by the kids and he doesn't get on with the teachers and his mum won't do anything about it .
You are aware that your DH has the right to communicate directly with the school, right? His ex does not have the legal power to stop him. All your DH needs to do is to contact the office manager at the school and request copies of all school reports, correspondence regarding behaviour issues and for a copy of his school file: with seriousness, in his shoes I'd talk to the head teacher and find out exactly what's been going on. And, as I said, I think that he needs to talk to the social worker. Given that this has been kept from him for so long, I think there's a real benefit to knowing what the paper trail is saying.

I'm serious here. I know your DH is ill, but from what you've said there's a possibility that some intervention now and some drastic action can stop this child falling through the cracks now. He can have a different life from you. He doesn't have to get all the way broken- if your DH pushes himself hard enough to step up now and to push for things to be done in your DSS's life, whether with you or with his mum, then there's a lot more options. Also, what if DSS never meets someone like you, to fix him up?

Please show this post to your DH. Right now, he's in a position to make a real difference.

Helen mum to five and mistress of mess and mayhem, making merry and mischief til the sun goes down.
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#19 of 88 Old 10-22-2009, 04:15 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thankyou Flapjack!!!!

I am going to show DH everything then he should be able to forge ahead with a strategy whilst keeping the ex on board.

The girls are really looking forward to him coming over. It will be strange for Z because in his mums household, he is the youngest, but here he is the eldest and he seems to like having a bit of responsibility!

Dh told me something kinda upsetting yesterday as well. Zs older brother (J who is 17), dislikes Z so much he refuses to share a bedroom with him and sleeps on the sofa instead! The other thing was that Z was on the phone to DH and Zs brother walked in and called Z a tw*t as he walked through the door. DH mentioned this to Zs mum and she said 'Z must have done something to J to make him say that'! J had literally just walked in the front door and Z hadn't done anything.

J and Z have never really got along and Z and his mum have never really got a long, I wouldn't be surprised if Z feels kinda pushed out almost.

Anyhoo, DH is going to talk to Z and the ex a bit more before Z comes down to try and work some more stuff out, so fingers crossed.

Oh, and the other thing, Z suffers from sleep apnoea as well as his issues with getting to sleep in the first place (funnily enough, DH suffers from a sleep cycle disorder and sleep apnoea as well), all the Doctors have said to his mum is that he needs to lose weight but she doesn't seem to have been given any support for that. I really wouldn't be surprised if Zs sleep issues have a lot to play in this. Lack of sleep can cause all sort of issues and maybe the whole drugs and alcohol thing is a way to self medicate, add to that his relationship issues at home it just doesn't paint a very pretty picture. I think DH should ask the ex whether she has discussed these issues with the school and if not, then they should approach the school together.

I am also wondering whether it might be worth talking to the ex and seeing if she would be willing let us talk to some of our family help types to see what they can suggest for Z as they might be able to help push for some more help for him. I mean, we are in totally different cities but they should be able to correspond with the folks over there (we have family help due to our medical issues).

Right, I have a ton of stuff to sort out before Z gets here on Saturday and I really need to go to the gym (seems to be about the only thing that helps with my fibro and EDS).
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#20 of 88 Old 10-25-2009, 06:03 AM - Thread Starter
 
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HES HERE, he came yesterday and ya know what, so far he has been PERFECT.

Oh, except he has a really bad cough/cold (supposedly not swine flu lol).

Yesterday he played with the girls, last night he played computer games with his Dad and then went had a bath and went to bed, however, he was coughing and spluttering all over the place so we invited him back down stairs and he played a bit more on the computer with hi Dad, then I made him a LUVVERLY sandwich (well, I thought it was pretty tasty anyway) and then they stayed up after me playing backgammon.

We have told him to sleep in this morning, a) because of his late night last night and b) because is really just not well and will probably not get much sleep again tonight because of his cold.

He is the same Z I remember, talkative, polite, really good with the girls (even when they talk to him to death about creatures and where is he going to sit for dinner and all that stuff).

Today, I don't know what we will do, I had thought maybe getting him out the house would be good but it depends on how he is feeling.

I love having him here, not saying that the three girls aren't enough for me, but when he is here, we feel complete, as a family. Maybe its just a vibe I get of the DH I don't know, all I do know is that when we are all together, everything feels right!
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#21 of 88 Old 10-25-2009, 08:21 AM
 
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I think you need counseling in place if he is going to live with you full time. These problems are not going to be fixed by healthy food and an alcohol-free house. Your husband could possibly get some ideas from talking with the school counselor. If a 13-year old is expelled, they get sent to a public alternative school, right?
sadly, the child has deeper issues that need to be focused on. He needs more support.

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#22 of 88 Old 10-25-2009, 08:56 AM
 
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sadly, the child has deeper issues that need to be focused on. He needs more support.
Isn't counseling the way to address this and get ideas of how to offer him healthy support to help him get through these issues?

 
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#23 of 88 Old 10-31-2009, 03:50 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Ok, will update tomorrow now hes gone home, I thought all was good but it seems otherwise. Hes been complaining that he was stuck in the whole time?

Well, he was infected with swine flu when he came and infected the rest of us. I have fibro so it really got to me, DH has a knackered lung and we have 3 kids under 6, so they were all affected. You are asked to not go anywhere when you have swine flu for 5 days. We WANTED to do stuff with Z but physically etc, going out wasn't a good option for us or other people.

Apparently, Z wanted to be let out, by himself, at 13, in a strange town (city even) when he knows no one.

I don't know whats going on at the moment, DH is VERY upset by the turn of events, Zs mum is near breaking point (having seen her today I feel very sorry for her and hope we can in fact become friends, I hope to get her email off DH and write her a nice long email).

Apparently, when he got home he expected to be allowed out until 10:30 pm!!!!!!

Update more tomorrow.
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#24 of 88 Old 11-11-2009, 03:16 PM - Thread Starter
 
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OK, so Z went home and then there was a load of crap like him not being allowed out even though we all had swine flu and him just being rude and deciding he didn't want to come at christmas because he wanted to stay with his friends etc.

We suggested things to his mum which she says she can't do etc (like removing his games consoles so he can earn them back etc).

Apparently his behaviour was a bit better when he went back but now its gotten even worse.

He completely denies anything he has done, he bullies his mum etc, he refuses to go to appointments (even social services ones and she just lets him get away with it).

She is really not helping because she refuses to do anything that might help because she just wants him to be happy, so instead, she just allows him to abuse her. This isn't making him happy, its not helping him and I feel really sorry for any girlfriend or wife he has in the future.

Anyway, we got a call from the school and her today. He has been getting money out of smaller kids for fags and he also headbutted someone. So, now the police are involved, he is on his final warning before being expelled etc.

Soooooooooooooo, his mum is sending him here again for 2 weeks, he will be missing 2 weeks of school so they are sending some work for him.

He doesn't seem to understand that he is being bad. He got a kid in a head hold at school and everything erupted and then when he was taken out of class said he did nothing wrong.........

Because of swine flu last time, we weren't able to do much like doctor visits etc and he was really good when he was here anyway but this time I am getting stuff sorted, we have to notify the police just in case he does a runner, try and sort out an emergency person for him to talk to, doctor appointment etc.

Its just really rough at the moment (not to mention our neighbour issues as well lol).

Being the step parent there is only so much I can do and not being the resident parents, there is only so much we can do, some of it is the mothers responsibility but she isn't prepared to do anything (I suspect guilt and fear play a part).

Just don't know what to do. We can't get him counselling full time for him when he is not here full time and up there he just doesn't have to go. We can get him in to see the doc but again, she is limited by what she can do because she doesn't have his medical records and again, whatever is decided down here won't be followed up there.

Its such a mess..........................
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#25 of 88 Old 11-11-2009, 05:54 PM
 
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Sounds like DSS is not with you any more but I wanted to post that I wish someone had MADE me quit smoking as a teen. I went to drug rehab at 16 and we were allowed to smoke there as well. Later rules changed but I wish (now looking back) that I didn't have the option. He won't like it, at all, but if he comes to your house for good I would have some serious ground rules about that. Hugs to you and your family, hope you all recover quickly and sending good thoughts about the situation with DSS.

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#26 of 88 Old 11-11-2009, 07:52 PM
 
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DH though was understandably PO at me when I asked him whether DH would be rooting through the fridge. We have ALOT of morphine here, so I figure we are going to have to hide it but DH said that Z is not quite a junkie yet......... I didn't mean offense but I want to make sure all bases are covered.
Um, you're right. You should hide the morphine. It's a safety issue more than anything. No one who has not been prescribed morphine (or any drug) should have access to it, especially a 13-year-old with known behavior issues who is also already smoking and drinking.

(I used to work for a drug rehab clinic; safety of take-home medications was discussed FREQUENTLY.)
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#27 of 88 Old 11-11-2009, 09:28 PM
 
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I just have to say that from the way you are so concerned about this boy and determined to help him, you are a great stepmom. He and your dh are so lucky to have you! I really hope that he is able to change. It sounds like your home environment and your parenting methods could be what he needs.

good luck with everything!

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#28 of 88 Old 11-12-2009, 03:38 AM
 
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hmmm i am reading this whole thread for the first time.

in your first post of him coming adn you were talking about how good it was, i was thinking uh oh how can it be good for him if he cant go out to drink and smoke.

there is a LOT here to deal with. NO way can you and dh AND mom do this on your own.

dss is on a spiral down to hell. he needs counseling, support groups, mentors and all of you.

you mentioned dh was not allowed to see dss for a while. i wonder what his mom told him then. that daddy wasnt interested in him adn therefore not visiting? so there is a possibility that just staying in your house is a constant painful reminder of that.

i can also relate to him wanting to be with his friends this xmas. that makes sense to me and its a point that almost all single parents struggle with. or should i say divorced parents.

and OP try seeing life thru his eyes for a bit. esp. since he seems to be hanging out with even worse kids.

not trying to be mean or rude, but you really need the guidance of social worker who works with troubled kids. you are living in rose tinted glass world. the happy family together - your dss is so not ready for this now. both you and your dh needs guidance of what to do with dss. please know that i am not saying you dont love your dss. what i am saying is you have no idea of what's actually going on and how to deal with it.

if he doesnt get help soon, he will soon be getting worse and worse. i wont be surprised if left untreated he might not get into stealing big time.

s your heart is in the right place and you and your dh are the only ones who can truly help him.

lots and lots of love to Z.

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#29 of 88 Old 11-12-2009, 07:23 AM - Thread Starter
 
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OK, honestly, I do have some idea lol.

I started smoking aged 13, started stealing, self harming, etc etc etc due to similar issues (except it was my mu not my dad who went AWOL I suppose you could say). My DH, has also been through a very rough childhood, so we aren't completely ignorant of everything and in fact know better than most.

I also worked with troubled kids a few years back and always had good outcomes.

I think what my last post was trying to say was that we can do as much as we want down here with him but his mum up there will not continue it. Both my husband and I know that he needs help, he needs parenting that does not involve being given everything that he wants.

As for Christmas with friends, we (his mum, his dad and I) said he could have a few days with friends before and after he came here, BUT, ultimately, his mum has been invited somewhere else for christmas, she needs a break and she is going but because of his behaviour, he is not invited. He has no choice but to come here unless he wants to spend christmas with social services.

I totally understand how he wants to spend christmas with friends, I understand why he doesn't want to be here, I know it is very difficult for him to come here because of his and his dads past, because he knows no one else here because he is moving in on a family that is already established.

When DH told me about what happened yesterday, my response wasn't 'poor victim' but 'poor Z'. He isn't in a good place right now and I know that feeling, I have the scars to remind of that place.

DH is going to be getting the ex to give him the details of Zs social worker so that there can be correspondence between them, I am arranging to talk to a family worker down here (and must get on the phone to her in a minute actually), but again, there is only so much we can do down here, any of us.

I talked to DH last night and said to him that if when Z goes back after this fortnight things continue then we are going to have to give Zs mum an ultimatum, she either gets on board with the social workers, us and the doctors OR starting from the begining of next year, he stays with us full time. We have 3 young children to think about during all of this as well and I don't want their life going up and down and all over the place due to Z being gone, then being sent here as a punishment, then going back and DH getting stressed because he is being called by the ex, the school and or the police because of what Z has done next.

As it goes, up until this point, Z has been allowed to do whatever he wants with no consequences, he bullies his mum (and Z is big, his mum is very small and I suspect, when he is in a range, she may feel very physically threatened by him) but we will not put up with that (and he doesn't like it).

We are a happy family and people think of us as being very laid back, but that we are not and Z, if he lives with us will have no choice but to go to his appointments, he will not be allowed out all night, he will not be allowed to victimise younger smaller kids etc etc etc. He will face the consequences but at the same time, we will be gentle with him.

We all know what is happening now is not a good thing for him and to be honest, the only thing I can see working for him is him coming to live here because we will not be bullied, we will not exclude him, he will be one of us with everything that comes with it. At least that way, we can make sure he gets the help he needs which he is not getting at the moment. If Z decides he doesn't want to go to a social services appointment, he isn't made to go. That isn't helping anyone.

I think I might sound angry today and I am, not at any of you because you have been great, but the fact that this situation, Z has been allowed to get as bad as this.

We have always been here, DHs ex should have just called, we would have helped, we have always wanted to help and as DH said, I would have had him since day one.

We were always told everything was fine so for DH to get a call out of the blue 3 weeks ago or so and suddenly having all this extra info is somewhat shocking to say the least.

Apparently Z walked out on his mum taking a bottle of southern comfort with him once. This terrified me, my brother (ADHD) walked out with a bottle of my grans drink and never came back. He was pulled out of the sea a couple of days later as dead as dead can be. He was 19 years old.

I know the consequences of this behaviour and it scares me, not just because of my brother, but also because of what I went through.

I just don't know what to do.

Will talk to the family worker though and see if she can suggest some emergency services we can use.
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#30 of 88 Old 11-12-2009, 07:52 AM
 
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Your DH doesn't need his ex to give him the details of the social worker. He's the kid's father, he has parental responsibility and the social worker should have been communicating with him all along. So should the school: BUUUUUT because there are so many dads out there who do just walk away, the social workers and schools had no way of knowing that this wasn't the case here. Is your DH acknowledging the consequences of his actions? Is he now in contact with school, with social services? All it takes is one phone call, telling them that he is the dad of a child they are providing services for...

With seriousness, you cannot turn this kid around. Your DH can, and has the right to try and do so, but as a stepmum, it isn't down to you. I'm putting this as gently as I can, because I can see how strongly you need to help, but without your DH being 100% "I'm going to fix the mistakes I've made" you can do nothing. IF your DH is 100% "I may not be healthy, but no excuses, my kid comes first" I have some ideas on ways to approach this- plus everything I mentioned upthread. Until your DH hits that point, though, this kid is just going to continue sinking until he's ready not to do so or his mum hits the realisation of what she's done.

Helen mum to five and mistress of mess and mayhem, making merry and mischief til the sun goes down.
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