06-05-2017 01:57 AM - last edited on 11-21-2019 04:12 PM by Claire-RO
Hi folks, first time posting here.
I really am at a loss as to how to proceed with my situation.
I find myself in a relationship with beautiful woman who has many features of Asperger's and a son who has been diagnosed with Asperger's. It's taken a while, but I now know how they operate.
My difficulty is that my 15 y.o step son actually does NOTHING other than play computer games. His room is a tip, there are bloodied tissues on the floor, there are moldy bowls of food on the window sill, clothes are never put away, he takes no care at all. If I let him be, he leaves his dirty clothes all over the house. As it is, he is so raucous when playing on line games there is nowhere in the house where one can relax. And his is always trying to get others to pick up after him.
His lack of taking responsibility drives me CRAZY. I come from a position that we are capable of more than we can imagine if we just try. So, you can see the clash of philosophies. His is, "do as little as possible," and mine is "do as much as possible." Mine is "grow through your limitations" and his is "don't think about it, just have fun." I mean I try, really try, to let him be the sloth he wants to be. But, sometimes I can't contain it and blow a fuse. Then I become the bad guy...I hate that.
And then his mother's brain short circuits and she just wants peace - so leave him be. But I fervently believe that the role of the parent is to teach, extend, challenge, support GROWING. I don't know how to support SLOTH. I really don't know how to support it. I know this sounds harsh, but I don't like him as the sloth. I just don't respect this behavior.
And now it is impacting on my relationship with his mother. She sees the 1% that he does and refuses to focus on anything else. She just sees her beautiful baby boy. I see a boy who chooses, and he does choose, to live a without regard to others and wants to be as unstructured as possible.
Now, I know that this is pretty typical of being ASPIE and I respect that being ASPIE is hard. My daughter is ASPIE and she thanks me for my parenting. Her perspective is that she is only as capable as she is because I have not accepted her limitations. I have challenged, supported and expected more from her. And now she is an optimistic learner who achieves to a high level.
So, what do I do? How do I navigate this family? I would love to hear some suggestions PLEASE..
thanking all in advance,
06-05-2017 01:00 PM
Welcome @Solly62 Thank you so much for posting and sharing your situation with us.
I'm so sorry I didn't reply sooner!! Just a memory glitch on my part, I thought I had and then...anyway...
So, yep you definitely have a difficult situation. Blended families are tough enough let alone adding other elements of difficulty. (although to be honest, I'm yet to encounter a blended family, including mine, that doesn't have added difficulties) I'm sure there's a lot more going on than a single post can convey but going from what I've read, these are my questions -
Is there any chance that your daughter and the relationship you have with her, as well as the person she is, has set a pretty high benchmark for you? It doesn't mean that all of your concerns aren't completely valid just that your partner may not have the same skill set you have and she may find it genuinely too hard to implement the suggestions you offer.
The other question is what do you personally need in terms of your step-son? I completely understand that you have concerns about how he lives and behaves but if you move that aside for a moment, what do you need to feel comfortable in your blended family home? Do you need more quiet time? Do you need him to speak to you differently? Do you need a higher standard of cleanliness in the spaces you are in?
The reason I ask this is sometimes when families blend there are so many things that need to be managed and addressed that the best approach is to narrow it down to what your actual needs are. As in, ideally, your partner would parent your step-son in a way that will help him increase his life skills and improve his future but if that's not achievable, yet, what do you need? And once you work out what you need, how can you get there? For example, if what you need is his room to be clear of food and items that potentially draw insects or are unhygienic then how can this happen? If mum can't get her son to do it without her feeling completely overwhelmed or resentful, can she go in there with a garbage bag and just grab rubbish or dishes? Or could you?
Sometimes the best place to start is the practical stuff. Asking yourselves the question 'what is within our ability to change now that will make a difference to the levels of happiness in the house?' And then looking at the big stuff when things are improved.
Does any of this sound like it might suit your situation?
06-06-2017 04:14 PM
Hi @Solly62 . Blended families must be really hard ! I find family life difficult enough as it is without having the added " bonus" of different parenting styles from birth ! Usually in new families , parents come together with their different parenting styles , they clash , then if they work hard at it they find a happy medium somewhere . It's a constant re-negotiation and reworking . My husband and I do not agree on each other's parenting styles and it took us years to find a blend that is ok we still have hiccups .
I would take time to praise my husband if he handled something well ( as he blows his top easily ) and he would pull me back if he felt I had been unreasonable . It took a long time for him to realise that it was ok to challenge each other on our parenting styles . He always said I was criticising him , I would say yes but it's also constructive and I want you to do the same with me . Our defensive egos must not get in the way of being the best collaborative union we can be . I want to know if I am handling something well . Afterwards I would ask him " How was that , do you think that was a good response ?"
No parenting template is perfect and we need to be pulled up sometimes if we have been illogical , irrational overreactive or biased . It's the reason that 2 parents are the ideal . We can check each other , it's about the kids wellbeing and solid adjustment to life , not our agendas or issues with each other .
I tell him we have a duty of care to bring this child to adulthood with life skills, respect for themselves and others and a good work ethic . It's starts with their bedroom .
My daughter leaves mouldy sandwiches , bowls of cereal , wrappers , and gawd know what in her room for weeks . We have told her sooooo many times she needs to be more respectful of her room .only 4 days ago we had the same talk yet again - nicely and civilly . Sooooo today after once again finding used tissues and mouldy pasta we cracked it - yes we raised our voices ! and have taken her lifeline ( internet ) for two weeks over the school holidays . We will stick to that . We realised that not mentioning consequences early on was a mistake . Find their currency and use it as incentive and give specific timelines to when things must be achieved . They need predictability and if your step son and partner have Asperger's syndrome-even more so . Praise the boy when he makes small achievements without being asked , as well as when he does a good job of what he's been asked to do . Also try to connect with him You want him to know that you care about him as well as his Mum in this new relationship scenario . Many step kids can feel a little left out or that the new partner is only their for their partner and the step kid is not a necessarily wanted addition .
The other thing that is really important is that parenting a step child is VERY difficult unless you are there from when they they 3 or 4 years of age
They see you as a bit of an interloper in their authority circle and really resent it !
Your partner is the best one to do the parenting , otherwise you will find yourself up against him AND her as a strong defensive duo . Mothers and their sons !!! Boy my husband and I battle on that one 😜 and we are not even blended !
You and your partner really need to work out a measurable parenting plan for him with specifics on it that you both can agree on and then let her implement , monitor ( maybe with you as an advisor, supporter and possibly detective in the background lol ) and dish out consequences . You just back her up when he throws a wobbly . Decide what is important to you as @Ngaio-RO says, find out what is important to her and then develop a compromise and STICK TO IT .
Best of luck ! Let us know how you fare ! 😊
06-06-2017 04:50 PM
Thank you for your responses, I really appreciate them.
Just to update you, I am pretty steamed today.
Last night I was researching the issue and came across a Specialist Psych who deals with difficult aspie teens. He has a "program" that gets good testimonials. So, without knowing much more about it, I asked my partner to check it out and buy it for download. She did. What has got my goat is that ALL the discipline methods I have wanted to implement are outlined exactly in this download (I do have some professional experience dealing with difficult teens). In fact, the name of the program is EXACTLY the name of the program I gave to this issue 12 months ago! I could not believe it! The same name - how does that happen?????
At this stage, it seems to me that the system of mother and son is too tightly defensive of him. I can see it is a generational thing as my partners mother likes to baby everyone and cannot tolerate independence - which my partner HATES.
I get the IDEA of equal opinions, but if that were the case there would be no wise people and there would be no experts. Sometimes, maybe often, one partner sees things more clearly. And I know this will piss alot of people of, but it is well established that aspies are known for their rigid thinking, their negative thinking and their lack of insight into interpersonal matters. SO why do they think their opinion is EQUAL!!!!!!!! What is the issue in saying, "I am probably a bit blind in this area. How about we go with your approach." I mean I can acknowledge there are areas I don't know, why can't others????????????
I DID WARN YOU I WAS STEAMED....so that's off my chest now.
On another note, I did realize something......
As I was writing the first post, I realized that the boy finds it difficult to structure his inner and outer world. I have no idea, and probably can't, how difficult it is. What I know is that he "chooses" the easy way 99% of the time. His responses (put downs) are easy, his living (PS4) is easy, his eating (rubbish) is easy, his sport (nothing) is easy. Admittedly, he is now doing well at a school and SEEMS to be putting in effort there. But in every other aspect of his life - EASY. My concern is that the default ,easy path creates "bad" habits, and makes him unpleasant to live with.
I don't see him developing into a functional adult unless we intervene. Whereas, my partner holds to the position that he will gain skills as he grows older, we just have to tolerate and accept the way of the sloth in the meantime.
We have seen a Specialist Psych about the issue 2 years ago and his advice was that my partner had to toughen up - strong mum, not the good ship lollipop. That advice seems to have gone out the window.
OK...sorry guys. I know I am just blowing off steam and not being constructive.
I'll come back later when I'm more ready to be proactive.
06-06-2017 09:51 PM
Solly, I truly feel for you.
I often rant and rave over a parenting guide for SN parents.. Before my girl was actually diagnosed I wanted the normal guide but .. life is not that easy.
My girl is ASD, ADD, ADHD, ODD, SPD, CP and so it goes just missing neurons.
I have found boundaries have been my life saver with routine. Any change be it a delay of 5 minutes, must be avoided at all times!! I have had to call 000 when unable to give her enough notice of any change.
My latest win has been to realise that she is just a toddler her behaviour, screaming, tanties, refusal to do anything has forced me to return to parenting the 2 yr old.
If he is a trusting aspie and you have some connection with him I would use that as teaching boundaries and creating routine but it has to be at his emotional level.
These kids do not have the ability to choose for themselves and all adults can guide- just as you can with his mum.
Discipline isn't a great choice of word to use for SN people - it just doesn't work.
I can scream all day, but if I say a sentence of 10 words my girl only hears 3. The rest of the message is lost. She is listening she just can't process fast enough. Anything they do is not done on purpose, they don't have the ability to antagonise you just for fun.
That is why the charts and stickers went up in flames in our house, she didn't care or adapt because she didn't understand anything except routine. At 9am we do this, at 12pm do that etc.
They are so intelligent BUT we live in a society which isn't very understanding or moreso, knowledgeable for those who are different.
You really need to look at an approach very differently to anything you have ever learnt. There is a group on FB for adhd, add families etc with great advice on how to parent SN. Some parents who have kids are asd themselves, in blended families, lots of support as we all have our own meltdowns. Worth a look if you want.
BTW, you are being extremely constructive and wise. If you weren't you wouldn't be asking for help, hopefully I have given you a bit of insight into the SN world you may not have read/realised happens. Breathe, just very slowly, it's the hardest step of SN parenting- sometimes I wish I had an oxy tank beside me!!
06-06-2017 10:05 PM
Hi @Solly62 totally understandable to want to blow off steam a lot on at the moment and I can imagine it feels good to have a vent so no stress there, you're very self aware anyway by the sounds of it and have gone to have some downtime. Just wanted to touch in and check what sort of self care do you implement for yourself whilst going through this journey with your teenager and partner?
06-08-2017 12:57 AM
big thank you to everyone for responding without judging.
Somehow, I am feeling more able to cope. I am not sure if the way forward will work for everyone in the family, but it will work very well for me and it will stop the conflict. And I think this had made the difference. I REALLY know how my life is to be orchestrated. And I am NOT giving up on my goals, my knowledge, my beliefs or what I know is right.
I think I've come to the conclusion that others don't have to agree with me. And in not agreeing with me, they have to live their lives accordingly.
We all make choices and from those myriad of choices our lives are mostly determined. And only one person is responsible for each choice - me.
So, once again a BIG thankyou to all for generously sharing and offering support.
I might even hang around and offer a bit of support myself.
Take Care everyone,
06-13-2017 11:01 PM
Hi @Solly62 An amazing space here to get things off your chest hey! And in that process others relate and we teach each other strategies, tolerance, love , compassion and understanding of many things.
I read the thread tonight and wondered how things are going? I hear you on many levels about doing NOTHING and just how frustrating that can be. We are all different and capable of many different things, some are not able too. I wondered if there was one thing that was important to you which could be worked on together with your partner. It sounds like you have a good relationship, its never easy with a SN child let alone a blended family on top of that. There's much I have to let go - wishing i had a magic wand to 'fix' all today. The journey is a slowing one than that for me, if i try to rush my son who believe me does less - it results in a meltdown, anxiety rising, depression rising and a complete shutdown for what seems weeks and then leading to months. So our journey is a slow one yet in that slowness we together process what it means to be tolerant and compromise , realising our values are maintaining our relationship and we both are trusting and thankful that we can hold space when disappointment arises, as it does. its hard for others to get it, yet family is always family, despite all the struggles we go through and the value of our family and those special relationships is our priority. The upgrades comes next, and they do with much compassion and patience surrending to trust and acknowledge challenges and receive blessings for the things which just are magic. The simple things - like being alive.
In my situation I choose to be thankful my son is in his bedroom, not on the street, he has a passion, even if gaming - he adores it, he has family who wish to support him when he's ready to listen or able and I am blessed that we have the patience and love to accomodate a different pace of life.
So i say gratitude for the reasons we love our families, blessed for our abilities to assist and continue to see the reasons why we choose to support the whole dynamics of being in our tribes and thankful for our hearts, hopes and dreams.
When our children are little developmental milestones seem more achievable even if a few years later, yet as maturer teens these milestones can be more challenging and the delays more prominent.
But then @Solly62 i just say the absolute obvious hey ... yet you are not alone in the struggles ... looking forward to getting to know you.
06-14-2017 02:01 PM
Thanks so much for checking back in again @Solly62 and giving us an update. It's awesome to hear that your coping skills are up - you are sounding confident and self-assured - awesome!
We'd really love for you to hang around and get to know the community here - we're really trying to work on the sense of community here at the moment and increase our regular members. Feel free to respond to any thread here that resonates.
Also, we are having a live chat next Wednesday 21st, we'd love to see you there!