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Old 09-04-18, 11:24 AM
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Partner's kid is making my life hell

Hi everyone,

I'm not quite sure if I belong here on this part of the forum because I'm not a parent of a kid with ADHD but I'm so desperate that I thought I'd take a chance and post.

I'm 28, my partner is 40. He has 4 kids who stay with us only one weekend a month, and half of each school holidays.

This situation would be fine if it weren't for his youngest kid, a boy, who is 11 years old. He's been diagnosed with ADHD and is medicated (when his mother remembers to pack his medication, and when his father remembers to have him take it.) but it honestly doesn't do much to help.

My main issues I guess are the fact that his father tries to use his ADHD to make excuses for crap behaviour, and won't set any expectations because he doesn't want to be disappointed. For example, this kid squeals. All of the time. Its so high pitched and loud that by the end of the day, my head feels like its going to explode. He does it when he doesn't get his own way, he does it when he's upset with his iPad games that he constantly plays, he does it when anyone is asking him to do something he doesn't want to do. I need it addressed (I don't expect it'll completely change, because perfection is unreasonable) but my partner doesn't even want to acknowledge it because it's going to be hard to address. In the same breath though, he gets mad at me for taking days off work, that I've had to take off because of the migraine that I get every time his kids are with us.

He also has absolutely zero respect for me. He will literally look in the opposite direction when I ask him to do something, or even try to talk to him. He has hit me, kicked me, pushed me over, pinched me, stomped on my foot, all on purpose. I don't think that ADHD should be an excuse to not discipline the kid at all for these things. In fact, when I brought up all of this physical violence to my partner, his answer was, "at least he hasn't bitten you." What??!

I know this kid is capable of being a lovely kid. He thrives on routine and when he's got stability he can be an absolute angel. I'm at a loss as to why his own father wouldn't want to put into place structures that sets him up to succeed!

I guess I have a couple off questions that I'd love some answers to as a starting point:

1. Is it unreasonable to set expectations of him and consequences? ie. action ---> consequence (reward/punishment)
2. Can he be taught some alternatives for the squealing? How does one go about redirecting?
3. Is ADHD an excuse for a lack of respect?

Sorry for the novel. I'm just an absolute wreck, and I need something to change! Thanks guys.
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Old 09-05-18, 07:37 AM
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Re: Partner's kid is making my life hell

You sound very frustrated. I have been a step parent, so I know it's an awkward situation to be in. I have a 16 year old and a 9 year old who have ADHD and they don't do those things. It sounds to me like there is more going on than ADHD. It also sounds to me like you have a choice.

If I was put in a position, with any kid ADHD or not, who hit me and my partner wouldn't do anything to back me up...well i wouldn't be there. To be perfectly blunt, ADHD kids need more structure and redirecting than most kids. If his dad isn't doing that then that is a huge part of the problem, and not one he seems willing to address. If this were me I would say "You either correct and redirect them so they know these things are not okay, or I'm not going to be here while they are here. I'm not asking you to choose between me and your kids, I would never do that, but it's not unreasonable for me to expect to be safe and respected in my own home. If you can't provide that, or at least look like you are attempting to provide that, then I can't be here during their visits."
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Old 09-05-18, 09:02 AM
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Re: Partner's kid is making my life hell

Hell with the physical issues, your parter should be backing you up. The boy is 11, not 5! ADHD is not an excuse, I guarantee he doesn’t do it at school otherwise you’d have heard of it. It does sound like he could have oppositional defiance disorder. Does he get physical with his dad or his birth mom? If this behavior isn’t corrected it could get worse in his teenage years...

ADHD is not an excuse for lack of respect, once again how does he act in school?

With the squealing just have everybody bring it up to him, hopefully he’ll stop over being embarrassed? But if he does have oppositional defiance disorder it could get worse and he could do it on purpose knowing it bothers you or others...
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Old 09-05-18, 09:09 AM
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Re: Partner's kid is making my life hell

Russell Barkley (ADHD expert) always says that ADHD people need more accountability, not less. The way you describe the situation, I'm actually more concerned about your partner's behavior than the 11 year old's. It's one thing for a neurodevelopmentally challenged 11 year old to act out - it's other thing for the adult parent to use it as an excuse to do nothing.

You basically signed up for a relationship with six people (partner, 4 kids, ex-wife), and the least your partner could do for you is to stand up for you. Does he have gratitude/respect for you?
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Old 09-05-18, 09:24 AM
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Re: Partner's kid is making my life hell

I do think that your partner should take your concerns more seriously and actively try to find solutions especially the violent behaviour. Perhaps he feels insecure because I assume he doesn't live with his kids or is worried about them distancing themselves from him if he is stricter.

Still for everyone's sake he does need to set limits and boundaries and clear expectations.

Kids and adults with ADHD do need a lot of structure and routines really help (at least they do for me).

You might still need to curb your expectations on some things. The violence definitely has to stop but the squealing might be more difficult or more difficult to.justify. if he is squealing as an emotional reaction then it might be better to let it be. Kids need to express their emotions and people with ADHD usually struggle with emotional regulation anyway. Maybe you can find a way of redirecting it (eg punching a pillow or something that is more pleasant to the people around him or more appropriate for the situation) but I wouldn't make a big deal out of it or a disciplinary issue or try to shame him for it.

Adhders usually work better with very clear and very immediate consequences however the consequences absolutely need to be clear and immediate. Cancelling a trip on the weekend for bad behaviour on Monday won't do much.

Also, keep in mind that thaving ADHD is hard, isolating and very frustrating. If you can cut the kid some slack then do it. Not through a total lack of discipline or expectations but by recognising that he cannot work like other people and that different, customised approaches may be needed.

Is he medicated when he visits you? I ask because many people don't take meds on the weekend or during holidays. It might be easier if he takes his meds regularly to get more consistent behaviour.

Is your partner on good terms with the mother? It would help if they could use a consistent approach (eg when it comes to discipline) both at his home and in your house. Also try to stick to his routines at home (bedtime, food, etc) and make sure he gets lots of sleep.

Also, when he visits you does he have lots of outlets to let out steam? My daughter is only two (and hopefully doesn't have ADHD) but when she starts getting cranky or oppositional something that works every time is taking her outside to play.
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Old 09-05-18, 09:41 AM
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Re: Partner's kid is making my life hell

Also try to evaluate in each instance if his behaviour is really directed at you pwrsonally. For example does he ignore you or look straight ahead because he wants to be disrespectful or could it be that he really is lost in thought and hasn't heard you. Could he be acting out with the violence because he feels frustrated, misunderstood or helpless (even if these feelings are not caused by you). It still needs addressing but maybe something less discipline or punishment like. Eg by finding other ways to express his frustration, or by looking at the root cause of what is causing it...maybe he is just a very unhappy little kid.
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Old 09-05-18, 10:29 AM
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Re: Partner's kid is making my life hell

Leave your partner
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Old 09-05-18, 11:26 AM
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Re: Partner's kid is making my life hell

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Leave your partner
That’s what I would do, but she didn’t indicate she wanted to do that...
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Old 09-05-18, 12:14 PM
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Re: Partner's kid is making my life hell

To be honest, leaving is on the cards if this situation can't be resolved. I want to do what is right for me, but I do love him and I feel like it's worth continuing to try to fix. If/when I come to a point that nothing is changing and we've actually made a decent effort to fix it, then I'll consider leaving. Don't think I haven't thought about it, heh.

Thank you for all of the advice, guys, I appreciate it. I posted similar posts on a step-parenting forum and got flamed because I refused to just let myself be walked all over.

Fuzzy12: I definitely acknowledge that having ADHD must be horribly difficult for the poor kid, and I don't blame him for his behaviour for the most part, as much as it hurts. I blame his parents for not setting expectations and setting him up to fail rather than encouraging him to succeed. Like I said, I've seen a sweet side to this kid, and when he's good, I do like him, he's adorable, so I know he's capable! He's only medicated when his mother remembers to send the medication down with him, and when my partner remembers to give the medication to him.

What I'm understanding from most of the responses here is that structure and accountability, and immediate consequences are going to be better than just letting him float unguided, and half-hearted consequences? Is it safe to say that consistency is going to be helpful also, like with most kids?

Thanks again for the advice and apologies for the silly questions. I'm completely new to this but I really want to learn to make this situation better for not only myself, but for my partners kids, too.
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Old 09-05-18, 12:22 PM
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Re: Partner's kid is making my life hell

If you can’t love your partner’s child , you cant be a stepparent
And there is nothing wrong with it
It is healthier for everyone , acting like good stepparent will harm you and others
If you cant then dont do
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Old 09-05-18, 12:24 PM
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Re: Partner's kid is making my life hell

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He's only medicated when his mother remembers to send the medication down with him, and when my partner remembers to give the medication to him.

Is it safe to say that consistency is going to be helpful also, like with most kids?
not only is consistency in general key, but consistency in taking medications. this goes for any mental health issue. going back and forth between medicated and not is likely hellish for him. your partner needs to do better and so does the mum as far as this goes. what they might see as "optional" is not so much if you're the person suffering.
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Old 09-05-18, 12:46 PM
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Re: Partner's kid is making my life hell

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He's only medicated when his mother remembers to send the medication down with him, and when my partner remembers to give the medication to him.
Well, the parents need to remember to give the medication. If your partner isn't capable of that, then maybe he isn't ready to be in a committed relationship.

If a kid had diabetes, would a parent forget to bring insulin shots? It's not fair to the kid, and it's not fair to you.

Also, keep in mind that as the kid becomes older, he might begin to make more of the medical decisions for himself. He might decide that he wants to stop the medicine altogether. Just something to keep in mind.
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Old 09-05-18, 02:22 PM
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Re: Partner's kid is making my life hell

Erin, I don't have ADHD, but my kids do. There are certain accommodations I make for the ADHD. For example, my son came home with a 51% on a test. If this was 30 years ago and I did that, I would have been screamed at, there would have been an immediate punishment. Knowing my son the way I do i said "What went wrong?". "i thought it was just on the vocab but it was on the other stuff too". "How can you keep that from happening again?", "I'll make sure I know what the test covers next time."

And that was it. Now i won't accept the same excuse again but it is a valid reason for him not to do well. He very much thinks he knows all the steps and then only does 1-3 instead of 1-10 and fails. It's a work in progress, but I have learned not to just assume he didn't study, or assume I know what happened. Every year he has new teachers and every year it takes him awhile to figure out what they will be testing on, and how to study for their tests. It's something he has to work on every year, and it's a huge thing to him.

Every functioning adult I know had parents that had clear rules and guidelines. As do I. they can't raise themselves and we can't depend on the school and friends houses to show them basic manners. Yes, I believe it takes a village to raise a kid but that village starts at home. I do take friends away, phones away, now i can take his car away...there are consequences, but I also temper it when the offense was likely directly related to the ADHD and we talk about it. If the same situation happens again then the punishment is worse.

No two kids are alike. But every kid needs rules.

What have you done to discipline the kids? I know when I was a step parent it was a gray area, but is he actively stopping you from saying anything?
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Old 09-05-18, 09:55 PM
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Re: Partner's kid is making my life hell

I think one of the big issues with him is that he's always treated like he's about 2 years old. The way he's spoken to, the way the other kids are expected to interact with him, the expectations placed upon him... He has nothing to live up to.

I've tried to speak to my partner about being consistent with the medication, but he gets defensive and accuses me of implying that he's incompetent. The worst part about it is that my partner has been on antidepressant medication so he should understand the importance of consistency.

My partner actually has told me that discipline is not something that I'm allowed to do. He says it's his job as a parent and should be handled exclusively by him. The issue with that though, is he doesn't do anything. Like, I understand letting certain things slide and picking your battles, but he's taking pacifism to ridiculous levels. Thats where my frustration is coming from. He says that he knows that his kid disrespecting me and hurting me is wrong, but won't do anything about it. I have tried to put in place systems of discipline with his permission but they fell by the wayside, I've tried to verbally mark bad behaviour and reprimand, but to no avail. I'm completely at a loss.
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Old 09-05-18, 11:11 PM
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Re: Partner's kid is making my life hell

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Originally Posted by Erin18 View Post
I think one of the big issues with him is that he's always treated like he's about 2 years old. The way he's spoken to, the way the other kids are expected to interact with him, the expectations placed upon him... He has nothing to live up to.

I've tried to speak to my partner about being consistent with the medication, but he gets defensive and accuses me of implying that he's incompetent. The worst part about it is that my partner has been on antidepressant medication so he should understand the importance of consistency.

My partner actually has told me that discipline is not something that I'm allowed to do. He says it's his job as a parent and should be handled exclusively by him. The issue with that though, is he doesn't do anything. Like, I understand letting certain things slide and picking your battles, but he's taking pacifism to ridiculous levels. Thats where my frustration is coming from. He says that he knows that his kid disrespecting me and hurting me is wrong, but won't do anything about it. I have tried to put in place systems of discipline with his permission but they fell by the wayside, I've tried to verbally mark bad behaviour and reprimand, but to no avail. I'm completely at a loss.
Damn I would get out of that relationship, your partner doesn’t seem to respect you
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