This is a long post, but I don't have any other friends who are in a similar situation as I am. I've been married to my husband for 3.5 years and we've been together for 6.5 years. I met his two children, son and daughter, when they were 7 and 4 years old. The 7 year old is now 13 and we're having a lot of trouble with him.
My husband and his ex-wife have shared custody of the kids. They do a 5-2 split, meaning we have them every Wed & Thurs and every other weekend and then she has them Mon & Tues and every other weekend. So it ends up that we have them 5 days, then 2 days, 5 days, then 2 days, etc...
The two of them have a pretty good relationship. She's always been nothing but kind and friendly toward me. She has also remarried and additionally we both have two younger daughters, mine age 3.5 and hers is 3.
Where we have an issue is the difference in our households. Her house is very permissive, the kids have TV's & videogames & computers in their rooms. They have very few responsibilities. They live in her husband's house and she cleans up everything so that her husband doesn't get upset. She gets very little support from her husband.
Since meeting my husband and my step-son it's very clear that he has alot of anger towards his father about the divorce. He is emotionally immature. Apparently, even at the age of three he would throw terrible tantrums of anger. His mother would give in to him or try to bribe him with toys. So today, we're fighting this uphill battle of trying to instill responsibilities and respect for other in our household. When he's with us the family seems to revolve around not upsetting him because his anger gets flipped on in a split-second. Everything can be going fine and as soon as the word "no" comes out, it's like a whirlwind of anger, hateful words and shouting. My daughter & step-daughter tend to come to me and we'll close the doors and go on with whatever we're doing, homework, cooking, etc...However, I have noticed that my daughter's behavior tends to get much worse when her step-brother is around. They completely adore each other.
My husband and his ex- have tried counseling. My step-son apparently says all the right things so that the counselor doesn't really see anything as being out of the norm, like it's just normal teenage behavior. Most recently, my step-son threatened to run away and has been saying incredibly mean & hurtful things to my husband and in front of my two younger girls. For a long time he has said things like "I just want to go live with Mom." My husband is incredibly devoted to his kids and never thought he would let it happen. But he feels like he has no options. His ex won't let him try different schools, different parenting schedules, etc. In mid-December after a three day period with my step-son just being horrible to everyone in the family, we finally said, "ok, if you want to live with your Mom, go ahead, we'll give it a try."
For the past three weeks my husband has gone through waves of immense guilt but he's/we've also realized what a huge negative energy vortex has been created by my step-son. Without him around my husband has had a chance to spend more time with his daughters and there has been nearly no arguments, certainly no huge tantrums, shouting, etc., and we're not afraid to take them places, whether it be grocery shopping or driving to FL (20+ hours) for the holidays.
Since my step-son has been at his mom's, she has done nothing. He sits in his room on the computer, tv or playing videogames. She agrees with my husband that he's lazy, angry and self-centered, but doesn't hold him accountable or make any changes in her home. My husband figured that she would make some changes at her house, give him some chores, take away tv/videogames/computer but nothing has changed, nothing.
Because of this, my husband feels that it's his responsibility to bring him back home and try again. I'm looking for some ideas, feedback, suggestions from people who have been through something like this. I'm so fearful that we will once again be straining our marriage, which we're struggling with, and having a negative impact on the two girls.
Thanks for reading and for any advice or support you can offer. I just don't know what to do, or what to say to my husband.
You might start with "No, I'm not supporting you in dragging your son back into our home on the 5-2 split. Everybody was miserable in that situation. However, I will support you in setting aside time and money to do things with ALL our kids together in ways that DSS will enjoy. Camping trip? Weekly family dinner out? Weekly dinner out with just dad? Let's ask him how he wants to spend time with us, eh?"
Honestly, on a 5-2 split, I wouldn't support bringing him back into the home. With 13 yr. old dss, it takes about a week to 10 days for him to get back into the cycle at our house after a visit with his mom. There is no way I would have him that torn that his life is in constant cycle. Now, if something could be worked out where he has every other weekend with mom, or a more normalized schedule, then you could actually begin helping him, but with a schedule like you described, there isn't much that I think you could do.
DSS called and wants to come back for 2 days as a trial run. My husband spoke to him on the phone and made it clear that there will be rules (same rules as before) that he is expected to follow. I guess we'll see what happens from here.
I'm sure that it will be stressful, but really, the fact that he's walking in the door of his own free will is a BIG deal.