stepdad's picture

Disrespectful Step Son Tearing the family apart

My 11 year old step son is tearing our family apart.  He has been diagnosed with a number of ADD ADHD BiPolar etc, sees a psychologist and a counselor. He was adopted at birth,  Mom cowers to his every need, I am fed up with disrespect, back talk, refusal to do anything to help around the house.  Mom again gives in to his every wish, says she feels sorry for him.  He is 11, at what point do you say enough is enough and make him accountable for his actions as well as words?  He is ruining our marriage.

gail's picture

My best friend lets her 19 year-old get away with a lot of crap.  She's been divorced about 9 years, and her ex-husband is on wife #4, I think.  The ex has given the kids game systems and been the Disneyland dad but only pays child-support because his wages are garnished, while Mom has been keeping food on the table and a roof overhead. 

   The thing that I have seen is that she doesn't believe that her boy is mature enough to choose things that lead to good consequences.  He doesn't turn in his schoolwork, he doesn't follow through on much of anything.  He might graduate from highschool this spring, but it would surprise me.  She keeps protecting him from the bad consequences. 

  It seems to me that her protection is what is keeping him from growing up.  That since his own mom doesn't believe he can be a man, he's not going to be. 

  This doesn't really apply to your situation, except for the parallel that mom feeling bad about the situation is what is keeping the boy from learning what he needs to, so that he can grow up and take care of himself. 

  There are some pages on this site about back-talk.  Search it on the home page. 

11 year old son\'s  mom's picture
11 year old son...

I'm in the same predicament as you are except I'm on the other side. My husband never lets off of my 11 year olds case about anything and doesn't ever want to see that it can not just be because he has mental problems that it is all because he is being mean. In return I do try to discipline him but my husband just goes overboard on dealing with him and then I in return get upset with him for how he is handling my son. Then we get into it and it's just a vicious cycle . So if you figure out a way to handle your problems let me know because our relationship won't make it much longer if there is not some give and take from both of us.

stepdad's picture

Thanks for the input.  We have started family counseling, the only problem here is that the 11 year old refuses to accept responsibility for his actions, each time we go, he blames me for his behavior.  I have told him that I am willing to make this work, but he too needs to step up and make an effort.  Our marriage is not good due to his behavior, my wife can't see that he is the root cause for most of our problems.  If he would just learn to go by the rules, keep his mouth shut and respect me, I would lay off a bit. 

tamz's picture



I think you have to be the one to hold him to a certain set of rules.  I was divorced when my boys were young and I too "felt sorry" for them.  My middle son was also diagnosed with ADD and has seen numerous couselors.  I really believe that if I would have forced him to clean his own room, help carry the groceries, hold the door for me and make restitution for his bad behavior he would be in a better place today.  He is really bad now and I know it is at least partly  my fault.  I still feel sorry for him when I punish him.   Maybe your wife can't be tough either.  A balance would be better.


I'm not saying good cop bad cop, cuz it's not fair to make you the bad guy all the time, but truely one of you must force consequence or it will be even more of a nightmare when he is 17. 


Right now is the time to say enough is enough... Trust me, I have made the same mistake  your wife is making and I am delaing with it stil... Be consitent and fair but be in charge!!

Ranger Dad's picture
Ranger Dad

When I first started getting involved in my girlfriends life, she was much like your wife.  She would do everything for her little boy.  She could not stand putting pressure on him to play sports with the other boys, help clean the kitchen after dinner, make his own sandwich and so on. 


I did not force my opinion down her throat, but I did expect him to help when he is in my home.  If he wants a sandwich, he makes himself one.  If he comes wining that the other kids did something wrong, I ask him to go back and talk with the kids.  When we come home with groceries I insist he carries some in, when they arrive for the weekend with their bags she does not carry his in, he now carries his own.


It did cause some fights at first, but when she started to see the results of forcing him to respect others she was pleased.  He is even proud of himself now... He used to resist so much and now he volunteers.  Small things like having him take out the trash and then praising him for a job well done. 


It was gradual, he did not transform over night, but just after 6 months or so we all started to see results.  Be strong dad, this could save your son and your marriage.  At times i wanted to just let my girfriend have her way ( it's her kid and i did not want to fight with her) but I'm so glad i did not.    I did it because I love her and I want our life together to be happy.  

stepdad's picture

Thanks for the words of encouragement.  Unfortunately, I have been trying to help my stepson for almost 4 years now.  Counseling, Psychologist, etc...nothing seems to work.  I have told him that I want him to start taking responsibility for his actions.  He is 11 now, I can only imagine how he will be when puberty hits !!!  I also worry that he is a bad influence on my own son, he is 8 and comments on how the 11 year old disrepects me and his mother.  I tell him that I can handle it, but it is easy to hide my true feelings to an 8 year old (I think, he is very smart).

I would like to take the attitude that my wife will step up to the plate, but she takes 1 step forward and 3 steps back.  There are definitely differences in our parenting, but I refuse to be treated like crap by an 11 year old !!!


tamz's picture

Actually, I think he is a bad example for your 8 year old.  I have seen my 8 year old copy his brother's actions at times and I make sure I correct him.  That's why it's even more important to get a handle on things.


I made the same mistake your wife is making with my first two sons so my little boy has been raised differently.  I have had higher expectations from the start and never let it get to that point.


It sounds like you want to give up.  You don't have confidence in your wifes ability  to recognize what she's doing wrong and you say you refuse to be treated like crap. 


Does your stepson's biological father get involved at all?


junieg's picture

I notice you mentioned ADHD, bi-polar etc. To what extent is he disabled with these conditions. I think that is very relevant. I know it is hell for you but surely medical conditions have to be taken into account here. How accountable is he for his actions.

stepdad's picture


He is taking meds for the ADHD etc. I know this is relavant, but to answer your question of how accountable is he?? He is only accountable when I am around, he walks all over his mother (by the way, he was adopted by my wife and her ex husband) His biological mother was diagnosed Bi Polar and she lives in the basement of her parents house (she is 38 years old). I was informed by my wife that he has now written a paper in school about his home life. He stated that I am too hard on him and that my expectations are too high. He again is not taking any responsibility for his actions. I really feel that this situation is hopeless, my wife is contemplating sending him to live with his adoptive father, (this guy is happy just drinking and pretendending to have a business). Not a good situation either. We have an appointment with a counselor tomorrow, I am ready to tell him that I have beat my head against a wall for almost 4 years trying to help my step son and I just cannot find the strength to do it anymore. I do not like the person that I have become due to this situation. I love my wife and came into this marriage knowing that it would not be easy, but how much can I take??? My son is even upset at the way his step brother treats me.

stepdad's picture


Please read my comments I posted today. I am really torn.