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Old 03-14-2017, 09:44 AM
 
Location: Business ethics is an oxymoron.
1,873 posts, read 2,270,095 times
Reputation: 3955

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I'm just at my wits end. I'm ready to kick them both out. I don't know how much more of this I can take.

What do I do about my 13 year old stepson?

There's no way to sugar coat it. This kid is a First Class slacker. And well on his way to being a full blown loser by the time he reaches adulthood with no prospects of a future. Indeed from what I can see, the foundation and first two walls are already up for him to be like his father-ironically-the type of man his mother despises: irresponsible, living in poverty, six kids from five women, an entry level job in his 40's, drives a last leg car, and so on. The window of opportunity to instill the values of respect and work ethic in him is rapidly closing.

And I don't know what to do about. I don't know if there's anything I CAN do about it.

If my woman and I break up, it will be because of him. We have very differing views on this, and as a result, constantly fight about it. She, as the mother, apparently refuses to let go of her baby momma grip and still thinks he's six. And because I'm just the stepfather, I'm fully aware that my hands are mostly tied. But at the same time, I pay most of the bills (including the house), and actually do give a damn-DO want him as part of the family, and do want to make a difference in this kids life. But dammit. This kid does not need a BFF. Ne heeds tough love. Like boot camp. If he's to get his act together.

And I work hard and spend a lot of money to provide a nice house to live in. I'd like to keep it nice.


Here are just a few examples of what's driving me nuts:

  • The only.....ONLY skill he has in life is playing video games and watching TV. Yes. He's one of those. From the time he wakes up to the time he lays down. I can't tell you how badly I want to take a sledgehammer to his gaming console and his smartphone. When they first moved in, he didn't even know how to wash a dish. He still doesn't, despite trying to show him. I've attempted to take him under my wing and show him things like mowing the lawn, washing clothes, putting up a dartboard, hanging pictures, etc. Like talking to a rock. And let me make it clear. I'm not opposed to gaming or YouTube-ing on principle. If those are his hobbies and what he likes, fine. Everyone needs one. But...balance....all about balance.
  • He refuses to make his own lunch to take to school. Despite, again, me attempting to show him. He actually once said he'd rather go without than make it himself. He's THAT lazy.
  • He will not brush his teeth unless ordered to. His overall hygiene habits? The less said, the better.
  • Absolutely no respect for anything around the house. Again, this has been repeatedly.....repeatedly told to him: pick up. I will spend an hour tidying up the kitchen, washing the dishes, etc. Then he'll eat something and leave the one dish right there in the sink.
  • Homework/Schoolwork: lies about it despite knowing full well that both myself and his mom are in regular contact with all his teachers.
  • Never....ever....ever...offers to do anything extra. What few things he does do, he does mediocre and halfass.
  • Always conveniently seems to "forget" stuff. Like....where his house keys or homework is. But can quote all three "Back To The Future" movies in their entirety verbatim.


I've tried reaching out to them and him: I've taken him out to eat, to the arcade, batting cages, etc, all in an attempt to build something resembling a kind of rapport. All to no avail. He HAS demonstrated that he is very intelligent and possessing some physical/skills aptitude....when he wants to. And in all fairness, I have rewarded and praised him on the occasions he does something good/right. I believe in that balance: that the good should be recognized and rewarded too. In fact, I'd prefer it. It's much less toxic than the negative. And the woman has pointed out to me that there's so much negativity. Well yeah. That's not her imagination. This kid DOES have so many more things going against him than good.

And she doesn't seem to want to do anything about it. And my continued tolerance for this coddling, enabling-the-lazy approach is fast reaching its limit.

I already made it perfectly clear to both of them: come the kids 18th birthday, if he's not going to school full time-and pulling in a minimum C+ average *OR* working fill time (and paying his share of the living expenses), then he's outta here.

I know he's a teenager and a certain amount of apathy, attitude, and resistance is to be expected. I get that. I also know that as a stepfather, I have to watch my own boundaries and be respectful of them. I get that too.

But even when making for those allowances, this kids laziness and attitude is bad. VERY bad. And it needs to be nipped in the bud NOW. Not five years from now. And certainly not in baby steps.

But at the same time, we are supposed to be a family together. And if this own kids dad isn't going to step in and be a dad and instill the values in this kid that he is going to need to survive as an adult, then who will? The wardens? If it gets to that, then it will be already too late to do anything. The kid does have a limited relationship with his father. He goes and sees him on weekends occasionally. Though what kind of relationship they have, I cannot say. I do know that the father has 'stood up' the kid as many times as he has picked him up. His mother certainly doesn't think highly of him. And yes. We both know to not disparage the man in front of his son. In fact, I don't ever mention it at all.

And I just don't know what to do.

Suggestions?

Last edited by Des-Lab; 03-14-2017 at 09:59 AM..
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Old 03-14-2017, 10:10 AM
 
12,704 posts, read 9,959,474 times
Reputation: 9515
Drastic behavioral issues need drastic measures.

Simply, the way you deal with someone like this is to stop enabling. If he doesn't make his lunch, don't make it for him, just let him go without. If he doesn't wash dishes, then give him a few dirty dishes and keep clean dishes in your room or tell him he can't eat until he washes his dishes. Treat him more like a roommate, and he'll act more like it. If he won't do laundry, let him go to school in dirty clothes and embarrass himself. I predict that in less than a month he will transform...
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Old 03-14-2017, 10:21 AM
 
Location: San Antonio, TX
11,157 posts, read 20,437,717 times
Reputation: 26428
He sounds totally typical for that age. My kids are good students and get straight A's but that's all they're motivated to do. They don't help with chores unless I stand over them and tell them every single thing to do. They watch anime shows all night, play video games until I tell them to stop, won't pick up anything. If I want my 14 year old to come out of her room, I'd better have an energy drink for her in the fridge. The way that my house is designed, the kids have their own hallway with their bathroom and bedrooms. The mess from the bedrooms has spilled out into the hallway so I can't even walk to their bedroom doors without falling on stuff. Their bathroom should be condemned...only one of them gets periods now, I can't even imagine the mess when it's both of them. I had to shut off the wifi to get her to empty her bathroom trash can because their hallway smelled like the dumpster behind a butcher shop.

And yet my kids are good kids. They don't do drugs, get drunk, have sex, commit crimes, hang out with a bad crowd, etc. They're just really lazy and they'd rather live like pigs than do anything they don't want to do. I think they'll grow out of it. There's a certain luxury in being able to just laze around and be kids.

The reason teenagers can get away with this with their parents is that we love them and we've known them all their lives and have that emotional bond with them. You don't have that with your stepson yet. It sounds like you're trying to forge a bond with him and teach him the things a man needs to know, but stuff like that begins in early childhood and it's harder with a teenager you haven't known that long.

I don't think sending him to school without lunch and letting him wear dirty clothes is the way to go. Chances are he won't start doing these things because you stop. They're stubborn at that age. He'll play up the "neglect" for attention and then the school will report your family to CPS.
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Old 03-14-2017, 10:23 AM
 
16,586 posts, read 14,060,224 times
Reputation: 20556
He is 13. Many perfectly wonderful, clean, hardworking men were weird, smelly, lazy 13 yos and it has nothing to do with who their biological fathers are, and everything to do with development. My brother is now pushing 30, when he was 13 I don't think he ever changed his clothes from Friday morning until Monday morning. He was gross, his room was gross. The only rule for the room was no food in there, and we better not be able to smell anything with the door shut.

Fast forward a year, he realizes girls don't like smelly boys, and he changes his ways.

As for work around the house, determine what chores are normal for a kid his age to do (mowing the lawn and loading the dishwasher seem about right) and then walk away and let him do them. If he doesn't, than take away the console for a pre-determined amount of time. No yelling, no telling him he did it wrong.

What is clear in this post, is you don't like this child and think many negative things about him and his father. You will likely respond with some version of "he is a good kid BUT". The point is if people on the internet can tell from a single post that you do not like your stepson, than he (and likely his mom) can too. Regardless, of how much you think they cannot. You (really all stepparents) should not be disciplining children that they do not like, let alone love. You should not be disciplining him, you should not be contacting his teachers, that is for his parents to do.

Oh, and I say all of this having been the child of multiple stepparents, including several like you, and one who actually took the time to get to know and love her stepchildren before trying to parent them. She is and will always be a member of my family. The other stepparents not only could never make the relationship work, they also were forgotten as soon as they were out of sight. And I have parented children who were not my own.
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Old 03-14-2017, 10:45 AM
 
419 posts, read 230,207 times
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I was the laziest person in the world at 13 years old. My parents gave me chores to do and I'd just didn't do them. One day I came home to the door removed from my bedroom. If I wanted it back, I had to buy it back. With the money I earned from doing chores.

I had a job in the summer after my senior year of high school. I slacked off and got fired. My boss was my dad.

30 years later, I own two homes from my own income and hard work. And the tough love (i.e. lessons) my parents taught me.

Your biggest obstacle is not your step son. It's your wife. If she chose a terrible man to father a child with then she is most likely parenting out of guilt. Her son already has a bad father so she is over compensating. If your wife can't get on board with a parenting plan, which includes consequences and following through with said consequences, then I hate to break it to you but -- your f**k'd. Your step son won't see you as an authority figure if your wife doesn't back you up and make you one.

I suggest family counseling for all of you. I really do.

Good luck to you.
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Old 03-14-2017, 10:49 AM
 
12,704 posts, read 9,959,474 times
Reputation: 9515
Quote:
Originally Posted by lkb0714 View Post
He is 13. Many perfectly wonderful, clean, hardworking men were weird, smelly, lazy 13 yos and it has nothing to do with who their biological fathers are, and everything to do with development. My brother is now pushing 30, when he was 13 I don't think he ever changed his clothes from Friday morning until Monday morning. He was gross, his room was gross. The only rule for the room was no food in there, and we better not be able to smell anything with the door shut.

Fast forward a year, he realizes girls don't like smelly boys, and he changes his ways.

As for work around the house, determine what chores are normal for a kid his age to do (mowing the lawn and loading the dishwasher seem about right) and then walk away and let him do them. If he doesn't, than take away the console for a pre-determined amount of time. No yelling, no telling him he did it wrong.

What is clear in this post, is you don't like this child and think many negative things about him and his father. You will likely respond with some version of "he is a good kid BUT". The point is if people on the internet can tell from a single post that you do not like your stepson, than he (and likely his mom) can too. Regardless, of how much you think they cannot. You (really all stepparents) should not be disciplining children that they do not like, let alone love. You should not be disciplining him, you should not be contacting his teachers, that is for his parents to do.

Oh, and I say all of this having been the child of multiple stepparents, including several like you, and one who actually took the time to get to know and love her stepchildren before trying to parent them. She is and will always be a member of my family. The other stepparents not only could never make the relationship work, they also were forgotten as soon as they were out of sight. And I have parented children who were not my own.
There IS a difference between video game addiction and laziness. If someone is lazy, they won't do things even during "down time" or time not spent playing the games. An addict, on the other hand, is kept from engaging in normal daily routine activities by the games themselves, but will still do other things during the times they manage to break away from the addictive game(s).

Depending on the specifics, taking the games away may not actually solve the problem. First you need to ask the question of whether he is lazy, or is addicted to the games.

Incidentally, in a somewhat role-reversal between parents and children, my dad once spent so much time watching TV that he got behind on looking at his taxes and managing his finances. I became so concerned that I climbed up on the roof of the house and taped aluminum foil over the satellite dish receiver so that he would be unable to get a TV signal. It actually did help the issue somewhat, though not as much as I had hoped it would. He never figured out what I did!
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Old 03-14-2017, 10:51 AM
 
35,109 posts, read 40,193,301 times
Reputation: 62049
OP: It appears it is time to decide if your marriage is worth all of the step child drama.
The way you present things it will not get any better in the future so why wait another years to find out?
You and your wife need to be on the same page of the parenting book if things are going to change but personally I would not hold my breath waiting for that to happen.
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Old 03-14-2017, 10:55 AM
 
16,720 posts, read 14,681,103 times
Reputation: 41119
Quote:
Originally Posted by Des-Lab View Post
This kid is a First Class slacker.
...
If my woman and I break up, it will be because of him.
...
I pay most of the bills (including the house)
...
And she doesn't seem to want to do anything about it.
...
Suggestions?
Kick them out. She is mooching off you and doing nothing for her son. There is nothing more you can do for either of them.
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Old 03-14-2017, 11:28 AM
 
Location: Business ethics is an oxymoron.
1,873 posts, read 2,270,095 times
Reputation: 3955
Quote:
Originally Posted by ncole1 View Post
Drastic behavioral issues need drastic measures.

Simply, the way you deal with someone like this is to stop enabling. If he doesn't make his lunch, don't make it for him, just let him go without. If he doesn't wash dishes, then give him a few dirty dishes and keep clean dishes in your room or tell him he can't eat until he washes his dishes. Treat him more like a roommate, and he'll act more like it. If he won't do laundry, let him go to school in dirty clothes and embarrass himself. I predict that in less than a month he will transform...
Agreed. In fact that's what I had in mind. Another example would be mowing the lawn. It took him a few months (!!!) to learn it, but now he does an acceptable...not great....but usually acceptable job of it. But that opened a whole new battle: getting him to empty the bag when he's done. I told once....twice....ten times. One day, I finally decided I'd had enough and told him that if he put the mower in the shed with a full bag again I was going to empty the bag...straight onto his bed.

The mother was horrified and gave me the third degree. I agree, this would be a drastic step. Which was my point. To get his attention. After the first ten times for the exact same thing failed. Not to be a jerk, the way she interpreted it.

Oh and yes. I do pay him an allowance. For the hour or so a week he does an at best tepid job of helping out.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hedgehog_Mom View Post
He sounds totally typical for that age.
I acknowledged that in my OP. But even by those standards, this seems pretty bad.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hedgehog_Mom View Post
And yet my kids are good kids. They don't do drugs, get drunk, have sex, commit crimes, hang out with a bad crowd, etc. They're just really lazy and they'd rather live like pigs than do anything they don't want to do. I think they'll grow out of it. There's a certain luxury in being able to just laze around and be kids.
Neither does he. At least not that I'm aware of. If there's one silver lining to any of this, is that he's perfectly content to just sit there and game/watch TV all day. Which means he won't be exposed to any of that. That's fine for Friday nights and weekends, but what about the rest of his life?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hedgehog_Mom View Post
It sounds like you're trying to forge a bond with him and teach him the things a man needs to know, but stuff like that begins in early childhood and it's harder with a teenager you haven't known that long.
True, but I haven't known them that long either. Have to start somewhere.


Quote:
Originally Posted by lkb0714 View Post
As for work around the house, determine what chores are normal for a kid his age to do (mowing the lawn and loading the dishwasher seem about right) and then walk away and let him do them. If he doesn't, than take away the console for a pre-determined amount of time. No yelling, no telling him he did it wrong.
This is more-or-less the approach we are taking now. This is not a matter of what he should or should not be doing per se. It's about the fact that he doesn't do anything AT ALL unles all but literally dragged into into it. Through lots of repetition. It's beyond micromanaging. It would be easier and faster if I did it myself and perhaps maybe he's even banking on that. but I'm not gonna play that game. I'm not going to be supporting a perfectly able bodied freeloader for much longer. I'm. Just. Not.

Quote:
Originally Posted by lkb0714 View Post
What is clear in this post, is you don't like this child and think many negative things about him and his father. You will likely respond with some version of "he is a good kid BUT". The point is if people on the internet can tell from a single post that you do not like your stepson, than he (and likely his mom) can too. Regardless, of how much you think they cannot. You (really all stepparents) should not be disciplining children that they do not like, let alone love. You should not be disciplining him, you should not be contacting his teachers, that is for his parents to do.
I am frustrated and feeling a sense of no control. If that means I don't like him, well yeah. Right now. I don't. But if I didn't CARE, then I wouldn't be reaching out for help; I could've simply kicked them out, taken my home and life back, and be done with it. That I haven't-at least not yet-ought to speak volumes. Ending the relationships is a desperate, last resort when all other feasible options have been exhausted and it's become an irreparable impasse. Not a first. Being involved in the schooling should be a manifestation of that. It means I actually care about his short term academic success and how it will have a direct long term affect on his life success.


Quote:
Originally Posted by ShanIAmVA View Post
I was the laziest person in the world at 13 years old. My parents gave me chores to do and I'd just didn't do them. One day I came home to the door removed from my bedroom. If I wanted it back, I had to buy it back. With the money I earned from doing chores.

I had a job in the summer after my senior year of high school. I slacked off and got fired. My boss was my dad.

30 years later, I own two homes from my own income and hard work. And the tough love (i.e. lessons) my parents taught me.

Your biggest obstacle is not your step son. It's your wife. If she chose a terrible man to father a child with then she is most likely parenting out of guilt. Her son already has a bad father so she is over compensating. If your wife can't get on board with a parenting plan, which includes consequences and following through with said consequences, then I hate to break it to you but -- your f**k'd. Your step son won't see you as an authority figure if your wife doesn't back you up and make you one.

I suggest family counseling for all of you. I really do.

Good luck to you.
Thanks. This is probably the best response I've seen so far.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ncole1 View Post
There IS a difference between video game addiction and laziness. If someone is lazy, they won't do things even during "down time" or time not spent playing the games. An addict, on the other hand, is kept from engaging in normal daily routine activities by the games themselves, but will still do other things during the times they manage to break away from the addictive game(s).

Depending on the specifics, taking the games away may not actually solve the problem. First you need to ask the question of whether he is lazy, or is addicted to the games.
I think it's both: he's lazy *AND* addicted.
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Old 03-14-2017, 12:02 PM
 
Location: Scottsdale, AZ
7,594 posts, read 4,674,480 times
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I am sorry you married a weak woman who talks the talk but doesn't walk the walk. Counseling or not, I think the first thing you do is acknowledge your role in this.

I was once presented with a situation where a divorced father of two young girls wanted to marry me. He was charming, but poor at managing money, always in debt, always short. His ex had a casual attitude about work. Both parents were guilt-permissive. I saw very clearly that if I married this guy, I'd be supporting five people and have practically nothing to say about how my money was spent.

Obviously I ran the other way.

I think you should map out a series of actions, starting with taking his bedroom door off when he doesn't do what you tell him to. If nothing works, the final action is filing for divorce and settling some money (not a great deal) on your soon-to-be-ex-spouse. From what you say, it sounds like she has a job. Right now, you're being milked.

Good luck.
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