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Stepmom Problems

Mark, I have recently found and joined your OPS. I have a 15 yo son that came to live with me when he was 12. His mother is best described as an overindulgent parent. He was also exposed to her habit of distorting the truth to suit her needs. He learned and has told me that no matter whether wrong or right she always gets what she wants. She will go months without calling him. My son will not open up to anyone. He seems to have the traits of a "scapegoat and a lost child". He has approximately 15 of the 20 traits from your Indulgent parent quiz. I am more in line with an authoritarian parent. Needless to say i have made a multitude of mistakes as a parent. I am also a 13-year police officer with a 50/50 mix between patrol and specialized units.

That said the current problem is that my wife (his step mom) and my son have a very contentious and volatile relationship. Saturday while I was asleep my wife got onto my son about something and he announced that he was leaving. She grabbed his bag and told him that he was not taking the items that he had packed. He shoved her and either kicked her in the leg or stepped on her leg.

My wife woke me telling me that he was leaving and that I needed to get a hold of him and that he had pushed her. My immediate response was to try to calm everyone and get the story of what had happened. Instead it was a lot of "I hate her, all she does is ...".and "I'm tired of his crap all he does is cause problems...."

Things got calmed down and I was able to get some of the frustrations lined out. I spent the day trying to come up with a discipline for him later that evening my wife suggested grounding him to his room w/out tv, ipod, cell, etc..

Now she is upset and resents me because she feels that I did not stand up for her by either pushing/attacking him or whipping him. The more she thinks about it and talks to relatives and friends, the more frustrated she gets. I feel that the physical discipline would give him the "reward" that he seeks. I have no problem with corporal punishment, however he seems to genuinely appreciate it. My wife has commented numerous times over the years that she doesn't understand how he acts perfectly normal, even happy after getting a whipping. But now she is upset that I didn’t mete out some type of corporal punishment to him even after the fact, yesterday or today. I feel almost helpless, nothing I have tried has worked and I can't convince my wife that we are doing the right thing now. I know there is a small window to get him turned around and I am afraid of losing another chance.

Click here for my response...


Anonymous said...

While most of the points are important, I do not agree that the step-parent should be "another adult friend". I am a step-mom of 4, a bio-mom of none. Thankfully, the oldest is 19 and a mother on her own. The 17yr old son lives with my husband and myself. The 15yr old daughter & 11 yr old son live with their mother & her husband. For the record, I love the youngest & wish everyday that he could live with us. My grief is with the 17yr old son. He has no respect for any authority, much less female authority. He uses his mother for material gain, just as she has used them to her own means. He has been in legal trouble, theft, running away & unlawfully hunting, all of which my husband & I have had to pay for in legal fees, restitutions & probation fees. He has 10 months til he turns 18, and for me it cannot be soon enough. I tried the friend thing. I tried the "supervising adult" thing. I have tried to ignore them & let the bio-parents handle it. None of that works, my home & my possessions are destroyed & I get nothing but back-talk & disrespect. I believe the parental units in the home, step-parent or not, should work together to establish rules & discipline. The step-parent works every day & pays their part of the bills to support the household, including the child. That person should have equal say in the home. I will not sit by and allow my home & life be destroyed by a selfish, inconsiderate teen that has learned bad habits from the wrong parent. My advice is that you work together & compromise to a solution that is good for your relationship & for the teen (maybe psychological therapy?). Teens go through so much hormonally, & then adding divorce & new 'parents' to this equation is volatile on its own. The teen may need 3rd part intervention to release anger & resentment toward the original parents. Don't be afraid to seek help, they just might come out of it as the adult you hoped they would.

Unknown said...

I think the step mom here is way out of line. While she should have power to discipline him and dad should back her, she cannot just decide how he should be disciplined and push it on dad. Especially physical discipline - whipping, pushing etc is abuse and her insisting on that is out of order. They need to talk about age appropriate discipline.

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