Mothering Forum banner

1 - 4 of 4 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
3 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm a step mother to 3 children. The youngest is 14 and is the only one left at home. I have sooo much to write but don't want to turn this into a book!

General story is my step daughter recently told me that said 14 yr old has been telling lies to his grandmother (mother's mother) and mother about events that have been happening in our home. When she told me, I asked 14 yr old for his phone and found a txt to his mother stating that his father had been physically violent with him. I confronted 14 yr old and my husband about this and 14 yr old admitted he lied. This is only one of many examples. Last year their mother started proceedings to get custody back. She lost custody to all three children due to drugs and her abusive relationships. My husband is not a violent man. He gets angry at things but has never ever even raised his hand to me nor I to him. We have been married 8 years now. Their mother is basing custody on what 14 yr old is saying. He has also told her he has to do all the chores here and cook his own meals. Yes, she believes it all! We have tried talking with him and asked him to write down in a book (like a diary) of what he has lied about, who he has lied to and to write down what he is feeling about all of it and to think hard about why he is doing this. He is accusing us of being mean to him because he wants to live with his mother and everything we do is based on that. He doesn't understand that it's based on his behavior and nothing more. He also stated today that he doesn't understand the hurt he has caused?? If we try to approach his mother to get this out in the open she will think we are the ones manipulating. We have thought about taking this to the attorney however how can we prove it's not true "he said, she said" situation. If we give up and let him go live with her then we feel his behavior has been rewarded and it will then be set in stone for his future. His mother only has supervised visitation and she has not once asked us to come see them in the last year. Only time their mother has seen them in this last year is at family functions under the grandmother's supervision. What can we do? Is it pure manipulation? Do you think he is doing this so his mother pays attention to him. Any suggestions on how we can approach this? We have thought about getting him to a counselor however, my husband changed jobs and we have no money left to pay for one. What savings we had have been used up with the attorney. Thank you
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,611 Posts
At 14, he probably doesn't fully understand the consequences of what he's said to his mother. His relationship with her is on shaky ground, right? So he might feel pretty desperate to do anything he can to bond with her. He may have gotten a good response for complaining about his dad or your home life in general (as all teens do have complaints about the people responsible for them) He's going to say things to please her, she may be manipulating him into dwelling on the negatives of his life. Unfortunately there's not a lot you can do to improve the health of his relationship with his mom... that's in her hands.

Is the journal you're asking him to write for his eyes only? I'd encourage that it should be... knowing every lie he's told isn't going to help you. He needs to know that you guys understand that he might need to act a certain way tos tay in his moms favour, and you won't take it too personally. Try, try, try not to take it personally. It's upsetting to hear such negative things aobut your family but it's all just a reflection of how fragile his relationship with his mom feels.

How long have the grandmother and mother known about the supposed abuse? A responsible parent would do something to try and protect their child. They don't hang on to texts and save up their evidence for a future court date, and let their kid continue to be abused for months... why would she have not reported to children and families? Or tried to discuss with your husband the event(s?), if it's of concern to her? Saving this 'evidence', in the absence of any kind of action on the matter, doesn't make her look like a good mom.

When you talked to the lawyer, did they give you any idea about how likely it is that his mom might get custody? My family was in a similar situation and I was told my ex didn't stand a chance of having the kids come live with him. If I were an unfit mother, the kids would go into foster care/to live with other family before they went with him... he's already proven himself unfit so he's no longer the default option should anything happen to me.

Look at what is good in his life, where are the strengths? You can show that he's got a good, stable life. A judge isn't going to be in a hurry to mess with an arrangement that's working. Teenagers are rebelious and of course the grass is going to seem greener on the other side to him. It's not enough to want to move to the other parents' house, he's got to have sound reasons.

In my area there's a mandatory program for parents to take when they separate. It's frustrating and largely pointless but one good thing about it is, they give you a booklet that describes in very general terms how separation works, what all the legal terms mean and describes some dysfunctional things parents do to each other and how it affects the kids. I keep the booklet where the kids can read it and do their own 'research'. I would catch heat from them for criticizing their dad if I say he shouldn't do this or he shouldn't say that... they don't wnat me pointing out his faults. But they can read it in an impersonal book and maybe see, oh that's what dad does, and it will be easier for them to acknowledge that he's doing something that hurts them.

My 13 year old has actually started to notice and said things like "Oh, he's trying to make us mad at you!" when he gets an email from his dad. And then I can just ask "Maybe. Oh well, you've been mad at me before... how *do* you feel about this?" and it usually leads into an honest talk about the situation. He's allowed his own opinion... I'm still going to be here even if we completely disagree. That's something you and your SS dad can give him, that his mom won't.
 

·
Registered
5
Joined
·
1,470 Posts
Legally, what's his avenue for going to live with her? It sounds like you're out of funds, for attorneys. Does his mom have more money for lawyers, than you guys do? Since she doesn't make the effort to visit, might she only be giving lip-service to the idea of fighting for custody? Is she likely to follow through with filing fees, custody evaluation, guardian ad litem home inspections, a hearing, or whatever an actual contested custody change would require?

I certainly don't think you should just let him go live with her. If Mom lost custody for child endangerment and was ordered restricted to supervised visits, then your husband could conceivably be accused of negligence, if he let a child he's legally responsible for move in with someone the court has already found unfit - especially if your already-troubled step-son were to get into drugs or other trouble, after moving in with her.

My 16-y-o step-son has lived with my husband and me since he was 8. His mom was found unfit, but not for clear abuse, neglect or illegal activity. It had more to do with prioritizing her distortion campaign against my husband, over the needs of their child. She was actively scheming to get custody back, from Day One. When DSS was younger, he seemed to say whatever he thought people wanted to hear. He told his mom he wanted to live with her and hated being with us - especially me - but at the same time, he told us he hated visiting her; and told his custody evaluator and guardian ad litem that he liked living here, and even liked me! Maybe he lied about us to make his mom happy, when he was younger. But things changed, when he was around 14.

Here, at 14, a kid's expressed wishes become one of numerous things the court's required to consider, in determining custody. DSS's mom had convinced him he could simply dictate to a judge that he was moving back in with her. By then, she had altogether stopped traveling to visit him, so he only got to see her 3 times/year (when he travels). She wasn't involved in a single thing in his regular, everyday life. He missed her. I'm sure he felt rejected. Yet, she was telling him how important he was to her, how much she loved him, and how unbearable it was for her to be away from him. So he probably questioned his own instincts about feeling rejected, and wondered if the problem was him not being committed enough, to returning to her. Teens often idealize their opposite-sex parent and can put on huge blinders, to evidence that she/he is screwed-up, or just selfish. Around 14, DSS began acting out (flunking classes, sneaking out, shoplifting, smoking, lying), openly rejecting me, passive-aggressively manipulating his dad, and more blatantly taking sides between his parents.

I wish I could offer better advice about how to handle your step-son lying. My husband's instinct was not to call his son out on it, not to embarrass him. I thought failing to address it encouraged him to keep doing it. I think people lie when it seems the easiest way to avoid feeling uncomfortable. So if DSS began to associate lying with eventually being called out on it, and feeling uncomfortable about that, maybe lying would stop feeling like his most comfortable option. But in the end, we didn't consistently employ either theory. Sometimes I called DSS out, even when DH didn't want me to. Sometimes DH got fed up and confronted DSS about lying, in spite of DH's own theory. And sometimes I didn't want to fight with DH, so I went along with tip-toeing around DSS's feelings and letting him think we were so stupid that we didn't know he was lying to us. With all that inconsistency, I can't say which theory was best.

One thing that did help was to facilitate DSS playing sports and cultivating friendships. 14 is a huge year, in that shift from family to social life, as the center of a kid's universe. Perhaps the biggest reason DSS ultimately stepped back from his mom's emotional needs, and his impulse to chase after her attention when she seemed to retract it, was that his social life was associated with our family life, not hers.

At 16 (and a half), DSS is not a picnic. He has never really warmed back up to me. But he's measurably easier to live with than he was, around 14. I hope it will be the same, for your family.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,700 Posts
So if DSS began to associate lying with eventually being called out on it, and feeling uncomfortable about that, maybe lying would stop feeling like his most comfortable option. But in the end, we didn't consistently employ either theory. Sometimes I called DSS out, even when DH didn't want me to. Sometimes DH got fed up and confronted DSS about lying, in spite of DH's own theory. And sometimes I didn't want to fight with DH, so I went along with tip-toeing around DSS's feelings and letting him think we were so stupid that we didn't know he was lying to us. With all that inconsistency, I can't say which theory was best.
The kind of abuse that your DSS and the OP's DSS face is crazy-making. It can warp your sense of reality, make you recreate it and lose a firm grasp on it. It's possible that their sense of reality is so warped that they actually believe what they're saying as they say it. So accusations of lying aren't going to help. When your reality is already warped, being accused of lying for stating your truth is only going to make things worse.

I've known people who've dealt with this, even faced it myself. If this is what either of you are dealing with, it'd be better to work with a psychologist to manage it. When your parents are feeding you two different realities, it's very hard to tell which is which, and trying to help the teen dismantle it is a minefield.

One thing that did help was to facilitate DSS playing sports and cultivating friendships. 14 is a huge year, in that shift from family to social life, as the center of a kid's universe. Perhaps the biggest reason DSS ultimately stepped back from his mom's emotional needs, and his impulse to chase after her attention when she seemed to retract it, was that his social life was associated with our family life, not hers.

At 16 (and a half), DSS is not a picnic. He has never really warmed back up to me. But he's measurably easier to live with than he was, around 14. I hope it will be the same, for your family.
Definitely a good idea. It'll also help give another source of reality. If the kid can make good friends and spends time away from either set of parents, it'll be a lot easier to start figuring out his own reality. Peers calling him on lying will also go over a lot better than parents.
 
1 - 4 of 4 Posts
Top