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Stepson has autism, I dread his presence, should I call off engagement?

Stepson has autism, I dread his presence, should I call off engagement?


Stepson has autism, I dread his presence, should I call off engagement?

My 10yo stepson has autism. When I got together with his father, he was not in the picture as the bio mother was withholding the two sons for legal advantages in a nasty, traumatic divorce. Whilst I knew about his disability, I feel as though my partner underplayed many aspects of the severity and I’m sure I really couldn’t conceive the reality of dealing w autism. Before the boys came back in to our lives, contraception failed and my partner and I decided to have our daughter whom I adore. I did try to have frank discussions regarding how having baby would work with the boys at that point, however my partner would get upset and without experience, I didn’t have a vision of how the boy was. I wanted her and figured I’d be prepared to single parent a second daughter if necessary. Right before the birth of our daughter, the mother handed over the boys to come to our home (she essentially weaponised the autistic child towards me as the birth of my daughter came, shocking me with the stress of it). every weekend we’ve had them for the pAst 2 years now has been horrible and stressful. Their visits reduced to every second weekend after they’d had plenty of catch up time with their dad. I am fortunate because it’s just every second weekend but I just dread the visits so much now that I find myself in an unhealthy low and resentful mood, partially I feel just because of the countless ordeals we’ve endured just to have the boys, their nasty narcissistic mother’s games towards us and with the autism needs and pressure that creates. We don’t have time as a complete blended family as I started sending my 5yo daughter away to her father during the boys’ visit because of autistic son hitting and hurting her. The autistic stepson in many ways has a sweet nature, his aggression comes out of expressing frustration over simple things (he is non verbal, low IQ). He constantly runs away as a way of fun and I have to call the police to help find him, screams and bangs in the house, won’t sleep, urinates everywhere including in the house and in front of people in public, breaks all my now 1.5yo daughters toys, empties bottles of liquids, things just get broken and destroyed. NOTHING occupies or interests him, so if he isn’t melting down, toileting, running or breaking things he is wrapped in a blanket rocking. It’s clear the other son has untended developmental issues also and can be oppositional and is spoilt without boundaries by both parents, I have recently found myself feeling unsure about him though he is the far lesser of my worries and a lot easier! I’m a lower energy, more serious and less fun person as a result of the strains, and feel that I have aged significantly due to it all whereas previously I was young looking And carefree for my age.

Here’s the dilemma. I’ve grown so much resent, been so traumatised by this poor child (he can’t help himself) that really I cannot go back from this point and just HATE his visits. My partner does do everything to alleviate and I don’t do any hands on work with the autistic boy just the peripheral cleaning up etc, but just the fear I have that he’ll cause a serious accident to my toddler (nearly happened several times), the exhaustion from being on high alert with him and the disheartenment I hold over the boring, restricted family activities we have to do to suit him, just has me so over dealing with the whole situation. I fantasise about escaping it all on the weekends he comes.

I am engaged to my partner but I just don’t want his son anywhere near me or my home, too much resentment has built up. I do care about the boy and his needs, I just can’t stand the impact to my life, it’s selfish I know. I hate that I feel this way and my feelings aren’t fair to him at all, given the high pressure demands It doesn’t make me a great person I know but I’ve just been through too much with it. I also know it’s unfair to ever put my partner in a situation of choosing his sons or us / our child. Should I end this all now and call off the engagement? I know if it were the reverse and I was the parent of the autistic child, I’d only want someone truly vested or I’d walk the lonely path. I can’t even fully hide my low tone on the weekends with the boys anymore.

One more thing, I don’t even know what I’d say to my partner to end it. He’d be angry but even prepared to stop his son visiting for our relationship.. the problem I have with this is that I’d be responsible for the boys loss of time with their father, and really as the adult I just can’t be a part of that! Also, resent would then build towards me.

I should also add that although we only have the boys every second weekend now, this is likely to swiftly change as their long drawn out property settlement ends (she is using the austistic son to advantage her settlement). We have had a few tastes where she refuses to take the boys back, recently we had them for a week and it broke me energetically.. it took me a week to recover from the stress of the son. I’m absolutely fearful of what could happen when the legal case no longer incentivises her to collect them.

I’ve suggested we remain together but live separately so he can parent the boys, but it’s a plan that probably wouldn’t work and my partner hates the idea.

Creative ideas, advice, opinions, experiences all welcome thank you


Re: Stepson has autism, I dread his presence, should I call off engagement?

Hello @heretoshare, thanks for sharing your experience here with us. I can hear the exhausation and frustration in your reply, as well as your empathy and compassion towards your stepson. What you are going through sounds like an incredibly difficult situation, as it has now begun to impact your relationship with your fiance and you also have concerns about your toddler as well. I know that you feel like a bad person and I may not be able to take that feeling away - but I think the fact that you have that thought in addition to compassion and empathy for your stepson, says otherwise. I can see that this was not something you could have expected or ever planned for and that you have given it your very best shot.

It also seems that you have expressed your concerns to your partner and offered some solutions, however your partner has not taken to any of them. That must be really hard for you and only add to the pressure and guilt that you already feel for wanting to leave the situation. You could try to place some additional boundaries in regard to the amount of time that you would spend with them or needing to live separately. You said that living separately 'probably wouldn't work' but with the end of the relationship on the horizon - would it be worth giving it a shot? I am not saying that you should do this but it was just something I wondered from reading your post Smiley Happy If this is just not practical or desirable, please know that there isn't an easy way to end things, unfortunately. You mentioned that you would be responsible if the boys lost time with their Dad. I can see the turmoil that this would create for you, however, that would be your partner's decision and not yours.

At the end of the day, you can put your cards on the table but you can't control what your partner is/isn't willing to do. So with that being said, I would let your partner know what you need and what that would look like - discuss any compromises and if a suitable solution for both of you cannot be reached then you may need to discuss what the final decision is.

I know this is such an upsetting and intense situation for you and it has taken a great toll on your well-being and health. Do you have any of your own supports in place? Whether that is friends, family or professional support? Please take care in the meantime and feel free to keep us updated. We are here to listen Heart
Casual scribe

Re: Stepson has autism, I dread his presence, should I call off engagement?

Hi there. It's probably too long ago that you posted this for my response to be any use. But I just wanted to reply anyway to say I hear you. I'm 10 years down the track of a tricky blended family situation and I have only a couple of words of advice. 1. Listen to your gut. If you are struggling with this now, it is not going to get easier. Things tend to intensify over time, the older and more worn out we get. 2. Blended families are seriously hard yakka. Like unbelievably hard. To make them work you have to be prepared to consider all kinds of unconventional arrangements. So... 3. If you have your own place or can manage two residences... keep it / do it. I can't tell you how many times I've wished we could just live separately and visit. It would help so much. 4. Ask yourself, is our love strong enough to survive this? Am I so invested in us as a couple that I can ride this out until the kids are grown? Or in your case, what if this child ends up with his dad forever? How will I feel then? Please just be as honest as you can with yourself. There's nothing wrong with you. You're not selfish. You're completely normal. Everything you're feeling is 100% normal. Please accept all of your feelings with compassion and kindness and make a decision that's best for you. At the end of the day, that's all you can do. An exhausted and resentful step-parent is not a better alternative to whatever you're considering at this point. All the best to you. X

Re: Stepson has autism, I dread his presence, should I call off engagement?

I am going through almost the exact same situation. You need to do what’s best for yourself because if not, you can’t mentally take care of yourself, husband, daughter or anyone. The mother can take her son full time, when you see him you can be kind hearted. You show her what your not willing to tolerate. You can forgive but you will never forget to bay that person did. Hope this helps, sending prayers.

Re: Stepson has autism, I dread his presence, should I call off engagement?

Oh honey, I feel for you! I have two stepsons who are both autistic, non-verbal. They are 25 year old twins that have been in my life for 10 years. One is bipolar and aggressive. I married my husband and knew he didn’t want anymore kids because of the struggles with his twins so I gave up having children to marry and spend my life with him. I loved having his boys around at first but as time went one, we have them every other weekend and it became annoying. I feel absolutely awful but I have so much resentment. I love my husband but I gave up my chance to have my own child so I wanted a life for the two of us to be alone but then we have his boys every other weekend. It’s the worst. I want nothing to do with them. All they do is sit and stare at their computers all day. The have fits when they don’t get what they want and all they do is eat junk find. I am so resentful and I feel awful.

Casual scribe

Re: Stepson has autism, I dread his presence, should I call off engagement?

This message made me feel so sad for you. I guess if they are coming over every other weekend at age 25, then this isn't likely to end is it.

Resentment is usually a sign that we have crossed our own boundaries and given up things we want or need for someone else's benefit.

I'd be looking for my own place. Not to end the marriage but to have my own life. That way hubby can do what he needs to do for his kids, and be with you when he's free to do so. You aren't their parent and you're actually not responsible for them.

This would also help your husband revisit what he's actually capable of doing without your backup and support. I.e. he shouldn't be using up your life and energy on his own responsibilities.

I think stepping away would free you from those painful feelings so you could engage or not on your own terms if and when you felt like it.

I think "blended" families etc require us to think outside the box in terms of meeting the needs of everyone involved.

It might mean dividing a house up into different zones, or living in two houses or adults having their own rooms and space. There are different and legitimate ways to live that don't require a woman to lose herself and her whole life.
Community Manager

Re: Stepson has autism, I dread his presence, should I call off engagement?

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Hi @bulldogmom2802 

Feelings of resentment can be really difficult to deal with, so I'm glad you've reached out for some support - thanks @Magnolia76 for providing yours Smiley Happy


Autism is complex and autistic people can have a range of different needs. For those based in Australia, Autism Connect provides support via phone, webchat and email for autistic people and their families. They may be able to suggest some strategies to help you and your family work together to ensure everyone is getting the care & support they need. Autism Awareness Australia also has a whole range of resource links to books, videos and articles that might be helpful to check out too.

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