Dealing with step children

I am a stepmother. Now, when one hears that phrase, one is usually drawn to images of the step parents in the Grimm brothers fairy tales. Stepmother is wicked, wicked to her soul, and she hates her stepchild with a passion, or, at the very least, is insanely jealous of  said step child, and plots to destroy poor child using highly suspect acts of magic.

I don’t think I’m evil, exactly. But I do struggle with parenting my husband’s two children from his first marriage. Let me tell you why I struggle. The children are naturally beloved of mum, nana and poppa, and are spoilt within an inch of their lives. They have certain….expectations of privileges dressed up as rights, and they have been known to be quite selfish in their outlook. None of this is at all unusual with kids. They are adored little creatures and loved and cossetted, and so they should be. However, one of the problems with these two bundles of joy has been my acceptance into their hearts. Because mum and nana are two very strong female influences, it has been hard to find my place. Who am I? Am I favourite Aunty? No. Am I fun older sister? No. Am I substitute mum? Definitely not. So what is MY role in these kid’s lives?

I think I have finally begun to carve a niche for myself as “Evil Stepmum”. The one good thing about this role, is that I can work both for and against type, without confounding any expectations. If I am mean to children (in the sense that I make them finish food on their dinner plate before eating dessert; or make them unstack the dishwasher before playing Wii games), that is Evil Stepmum, and entirely predictable. If I am nice to the kids, because we have negotiated a fair deal on something, or I’m feeling generous, that’s Evil Stepmum with a soft streak, and again, entirely within the realms of possibility. Start with hardness, and softness becomes an agreeable surprise. Start the other way around and children can be shaken by sudden death match situations. In other words, I have boundaries, and the kids know what they are, and, for the most part (after they have stayed with us for a few weeks), they are good at sticking within the boundaries. Like all kids, they will give those boundaries a good nudge, but I’m quite forthright and strict in rule setting, and the kids know this.

Problem is, I think my stepson has mild Aspergers. It is undiagnosed, but I think he goes through “phases” at times of displaying quite Asperger-like symptoms. The following checklist is from http://www.asperger-advice.com

Social interaction

  • A dislike to any change in their routine
  • They lack empathy so feelings of other people go unnoticed
  • Try to avoid eye contact
  • Preoccupations for one particular subject or interest
  • Social withdrawal
  • Lack of interest in other people
  • Lack of initiating

    Communication

  • Social clues go unnoticed
  • No pick up on non verbal signs such as body language
  • Unable to take turns talking
  • Trouble in maintaining a conversation or starting one
  • Advanced formal style of speaking
  • One sides conversations
  • Subtle differences in speech tone go unnoticed
  • Their own speech can be flat because it lacks accents,pitch and tone
  • Verbalisation of their internal thoughts
  • At young age: echolalia (the repetition of phrases and words)

    Motor skills

  • Their facial expressions and posture may be unusual
  • Clumsiness
  • Uncoordinated motor movements
  • Repetitive movements of body parts such as arms, hands or fingers.
  • Their motor development is delayed.

In my stepson, most of these symptoms show. Not necessarily to a very strong extent, but certainly he displays nearly all of these symptoms when he visits. I struggle to like him, most days, because as I said to a friend recently, “He’s often a boring, loud, annoying know-it-all with an infallible sense of what’s right and wrong: for him. Completely unaware of people’s feelings, often rude and tactless, no motor coordination, doesn’t cope with change, is argumentative, likes factoids, has a really infuriating habit of sounding pompous and know-it-all, often doesn’t look one in the eye, needs constant reminders to look at people when talking to them, has to be reeducated constantly about tactful behaviour etc etc.” He cannot eat well with knife or fork at the table (he is 13), he pees all over the toilet seat, can’t run, has very poor upper body strength: you get the drift.

I think he has Aspergers. He has one school friend, who is quite similar to him – his only school friend from the last 6 years. He corrects teachers. He corrects the speech of others. He needs to know what is happening all the time. He asks “why” questions all the time. He has the oddest sense of logic I’ve ever seen and he can also be very literal. For example, last weekend, we were visiting my in-laws. His dad asked him to check the front door to see if it was open. It was shut, but unlocked. My stepson, instead of opening the unlocked door and going upstairs, passively waited for us to ask again whether the door was unlocked, which he then agreed it was. At this point, both dad and stepmum nearly lost it, as he was unable to make the implied connection between the shut but unlocked door and doing, what we assumed was the next logical step of going upstairs into the house. This is normal behaviour for him.

He often argues with us, but rarely throws tantrums. He hates change, and struggles to accept new and different things. Is this Aspergers? My husband also looked up the symptoms and realised that many of them could apply directly to him, too. So maybe there’s a hereditary factor.

My stepson laughs, giggles, sees the ridiculous in things. He reads Harry Potter and various action books. He likes War Hammer games, and is getting better at golf. He can be very empathic at times, but usually after we have re-educated him. I have been concerned that I didn’t like my step son because he was just plain horrible, but I am now thinking that perhaps there is a diagnosis for his actions and behaviours, which, if acknowledged, would really really help me in my quest to find the best way to interact with him.

My other step child is mostly great this year. She may have an eating disorder as she gets older. Am awaiting this development with interest.

Help me, oh Obi Wan!

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65 thoughts on “Dealing with step children

  1. I know that this is an old post, but i wanted to reach out and just say “i completely understand”. My step son has aspergers (only recently diagnosed) and i just wanted you to know that you made my day with this post. I sometimes feel like i am completely alone in really disliking this kid….but now at least i know i am not alone here.

    1. Thanks L. IT has been a hard slog, these last five years, but once I made the connection in my own mind that my stepson’s behaviours potentially had a medical basis, he was much easier to deal with. You’re certainly not alone in your feelings! Also, being open to my husband about my feelings has made the whole situation in my head much easier, too. Thanks for your kind words!

      1. I just stumbled upon your post too, with much relief. I have a 12 year old step son with aspergers. I know many of his irritating qualities are due to his aspergers but he is also an only child and it’s difficult to determine which behaviour is just due to being horribly spoilt. I have been married for less than a year and my step son stays with us every weekend. I would love some ideas on how to broach this subject with my husband. He has some aspergers traits himself (as you mentioned of your husband) and is blinded by parental love when it comes to his son’s behaviour. It is, understandably, a very sensitive issue but it seems that you’ve managed to be open and honest with your husband. Does your husband acknowledge that his son’s behaviour is annoying, irritating, sometimes down right intolerable? How did you even get to the point where this was a topic of discussion? I would truly love some guidance on this topic. Being a step mother has proved to be far more difficult than anticipated – and is becoming almost unbearable. I love my husband and want my relationship with my step son to improve. If you have any tips they would be much appreciated.

      2. Hi Sarah,

        great to hear from you! I don’t have much time to reply, but once I made the distinction in my mind that my step-son has Aspergers, then it became a lot easier for me to handle.

        1. I attributed most of his behaviour to his condition, which took out the emotion from my interactions with him.
        2. Then, here’s the things i did in my relationship to ensure that I was not being worn out by my own distress: I deflected all care of the child to my husband. If my son asked me a question wanting to do something, I would deflect to hubby.
        3. If my son got angry with me, I had the right to say I will not be talked to like that (you know, abusive, rude, taken-for-granted) etc, and I would otherwise NOT react. Do not feed the fire of the difficulty. Leave the space, go for a walk, do not allow you to be sucked into modes of behaviour that distress you.
        4. I am frequently busy on the weekends, so time spent away is a good life-saver.
        5. Explain, calmly and gently to your husband that you are not responsible for your stepson’s behaviour, nor his care. Because you are actually not responsible. Why care so much? He is not your child. Sometimes, you just need to shrug it off. Except when he is destroying your stuff. Then you get to put the guilts on hubby. Oh! And I was able to be very open and honest with hubby, but I was gentle, too. He looked at the traits for Aspergers and realised he had many of the same traits as a child. He became MORE sympathetic to his son, but he is equally, if not more irritated than I have been about his son’s many irritating habits.

        Finally, all children are rude, thoughtless, tactless, spoiled when they are not our own. I already have two adult children from a previous relationship, and I’m sure my two were hideous to other people at times. I’ve learned to deal with this too!

        I recently saw my step-children for the first time in 6 weeks, and I realised, with relief, that I DO love them! It has taken me five years to come to this point.

        Good luck and keep going – your relationship is worth it.

    2. I am a step mom to a 13 year old…your story is like a reflection of mine. The only difference is that his mom is not in the picture at all since he was about 3 years old. He calls me mom. I hate to say that sometimes I cringe when he calls me mom because he just does not seem to want to bond with me at all. He was diagnosed with Asperger’s this year and is scheduled to have some more testing to see if he has a defiance disorder (he is also a compulsive liar and defiant). My husband and I are now pregnant and he is acting out by being defiant all the time, even at school. I can go on and on for hours on this subject. I just wanted to say that I understand and we are not evil step moms, just human. This is not your typical instinctual parenting…let yourself off the hook a little. I try to do that everyday, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t .

    3. I am recently married with 3 step children, the youngest being a normal prissy girl, the second oldest boy being diagnosed as being highly functioning autistic and the oldest boy (9) just diagnosed with ADHD and doctors are following the school’s interest in possible asperger’s. To me, he’s the classic case. He sounds just like your stepson- know-it-all, literal, rude, arguementative, and very much a loner. He is very intelligent scoring higher than students in the district in math, but the biggest problems are at home where I have a 5yr old and 2yr old son that I brought into the marriage. He is very mean to them and OFTEN hits my 2yr old. My husband refuses to believe he has anything more than ADHD and often compares his sons to the younger version of him. He’s in complete denial and I grow more and more frustrated by the day trying to deal with the behaviors of an autistic child and his 9yr old. Oh yea, we have a baby on the way which worries me even more with the possibilities of how he will treat that baby. Any suggestions you have in handling or getting him to stop being so mean to my kids?

    4. I thought I was alone in this. Making me feel like such an asshole. I dreamnt of living happily with step kids, but these drew the line one too many times and I saw the real them.

      I have no support because their dad doesnt see it, or he does and doesnt want to see it because its a reflection of him and his parenting.

      1. Hi, I am going through the same my two step children didn’t and arnt like other majority of children,
        Over the years I see it more and I tell my husband but he just won’t do anything he protects them with a massive blanket but he just can’t see that is ruining there chances in life, which really makes me angry and we argue about it all the time. There 21 and 18.
        My husband will laugh and banter with my two children but don’t banter with his as they probably can’t handle it. This is so frustrating and I feel so alone and awful towards his kids.

      2. omg this is exactly my life right now. I have one biological child 6 years old (boy), with my ex husband, and my fiancée has twin daughters – 7 years old. One of the twins is likely aspergers – in my opinion. fiancée in denial. Her behaviour disrupts the whole household, influences the other kids, and makes me resent her. I feel like if my fiancée can get on the same page as me, at least we could better understand it all. We could have a diagnosis and get some services for her. I don’t know how to bring it up – scared he will shut me out. Hoping the school picks up on it. She just started struggling in school this year and the teacher is noticing. ugh…..

  2. Hi,

    It was great to read your blog! I have a stepson who will be 18 this year, he chose to live with his father aged 6 as his mum was irratic to say the least. They both came to live with me 18 months ago and can say it has been one of the hardest struggles!

    I have 2 boys of similar age and the stark contrast is very apparent. He exhibits many of the symtoms of aspergers but has never been diagnosed. His family all think him absolutely wonderful and have spoilt him excessively, when I mentioned that I thought he may well have aspergers they were all up in arms, choosing instead, that hes just immature and will grow up!!

    When he came to live with me aged 16 he had to sleep with the light on, he was too scared to go out on his bike, he had to be reminded to do the simple tasks like brushing his teeth. He is absolutely obsessed with football. He was bullied at school as his social skills are clearly lacking. We can be in the middle of a conversation and he will just interrupt with pointless drivel mainly football statistics!!

    I have been unable to warm to him and have tried so hard. All I see is a spoilt boy who expects everyone to run round after him, can’t accept responsibility for himself, very lazy (not asperger) and who lies to suit himself. I am the first to feel sorry for the under dog but he has such an air of arrogance about him that it is difficult to want to help him. I tried for the first 6 months, he tried college but was too disorganised to complete the work and had to give up after 4 weeks, so I spent months helping him find a job. He was looking at pilots, football scouts etc but in reality he is best suited to a more mundane job with routine! He missed a fair few interviews because he couldn’t get out of bed in the morning. I have given up helping him now as the sheer fustration I felt was too much.

    It is at a point now where I have to keep my opinions to myself on how and where I think he needs help as his dad says he wants to do it his way, I am more strict with mine and they know if they do wrong. His way is to talk, sometimes for hours to get him to do something. He has far more patience than me, he has grown up with his dad being soft and whilst I feel that probably helped growing up, he now needs to take that step into becoming an adult but his mental age I would say is a 10 right now. My fear is when will he be ready to move out??? I know it is horrible thing to say but to live with someone whom you can’t love or warm to is incredibly hard and to not see an end in sight either!! At times I would just like to say to my partner, move out because I don’t want his son in my home but I would lose him which I don’t want to do as I love him dearly. He has a daughter who stays every weekend who is great, thoughtless at times and only comes when it suits her but thats teenagers for you!! I am beginning to feel so uncomfortable in my own home, I have no say in his son now and don’t really know how I can cope so that we have a normal, happy realtionship as a couple without dragging his son into it! We have both had different upbringings his soft, mine hard but we need to strike a compromise! He knows his son isn’t normal but he has the love and the fact he is his son to see him through it. My own children struggle with him too and spend alot of their time avoiding him, spending it in their bedrooms. They don’t want to go on holiday with him or even days out. It is like trying to mix oil and water.

    1. This could have been written by me… Seriously, you are not alone! This is EXACTLY what I am going through too. It helps to know I am not alone.

  3. I think living with step children is so hard, even without the potential trauma of a condition such as Aspergers. And parenting styles always differ as well, which can cause friction. I wish you the very best in your interactions with your stepson, and hope that you can talk with your husband openly, honestly, and respectfully about your concerns. Good luck!

  4. It was so refreshing to read all of your comments and ideas. Sometimes I feel so alone, and clearly I’m not! I’m a step-parent of a 16 year old boy with AS. He’s very into Warhammer and other such games and is quite keen to go to a nearby store to play those games. On the bright side, he’s made good friends there but they tend to be somewhat compartmentalized. He doesn’t initiate meeting friends to go to a movie or to go out somewhere – other people have to initiate. He prefers sitting in front of the television, computer or video games – this drives me crazy. He’s also informed us he’s “just a kid” so he doesn’t need to seek work. Any suggestions?

    Paula

    1. Hi Paula,

      Oh, Warhammer, the game of champion nerds! Hilarious. Our boy is the same.

      He, too, proffers the same argument for not working as “he is just a kid”. Our solution: if he wants something, he has to pay for it. Simple. If he wants to buy those ridiculously overpriced Warhammer plastic toys, where the cost of a plastic dongle leaves me breathless, then he has to earn the money to pay for it. We have so much frustration with this one. It’s like having to retrain him every time – we are patient, we say, “sure, of course you can have it. How are you going to pay for it?” And he says: (at 13) “I don’t have to work, it’s child labour”. My response is to guffaw loudly and repeat the question. I am a strict parent in the sense that I am implacable about these things: an immovable object, as it were.

      We have been adding more areas of responsibility for our children. For example, my boy is learning to wash dishes properly, and to do his own laundry. He is now doing the laundry for the family. Both the kids are learning to cook, and we are ensuring that pocket money is given for chores done well. At 16, I’m not sure how the potential for development of these skills might transpire. We found that by setting boundaries for the kids they were much easier to deal with.

      Oh! And my youngest son from my first marriage was a bit like this too, and he is not AS. He sits in front of the computer all day as well, but it’s his choice.

      I guess the worst thing about AS kids is that they often lack charm. They are not socially adept and can be awfully tactless and unfriendly. It can be a thankless task to deal with this, even if you love them, as you’re not getting the reciprocation you need. It’s us learning how to either accept or retrain those behaviours that is the key to feeling more comfortable with their ways of being.

      In the end, you need to walk away and let your boy make his own decisions about things. If your husband is understanding of your feelings, talking to him about how the both of you might respond to your boy’s behaviours may give you some comfort and solutions too. My hubby and I tend to be very rational about these things and we rarely argue, so it’s more a case of discussing the problem and finding solutions for us that works. Good luck!

  5. You described my son perfectly. He hasn’t been diagnosed with Aspergers but he was in the hospital last August for 2 weeks for what they called a “mood disorder”. I live in Connecticut, US and they said they don’t want to label him, but if they had to they would say he had bi-polar. He has also been treated for ADHD without the hyper factor. These are two things that Aspergers children are often misdiagnosed with. The intake nurse at the hospital said it sounds like Aspergers, so did at least one other person.
    I hate to say this because I know this is so not a correct thing to say, but he annoys me. He’s almost 16, my mother kind of took over him when he was a baby and he’s kind of treated me and his dad like second class citizens. I never bonded with him. I just turned 18 when I had him. I have other children that I didn’t start having until I was 24. I have a completely different relationship with them.
    Let me explain what I mean when I say he annoys me. I hold a lot of anger and resentment towards him for the stuff he has said to me. We aren’t talking swear words, we’re talking about cutting, cruel remarks to me and his dad, but mostly to me. He’s pushed and shoved me, especially when I’ve been pregnant. He can’t take criticism. This morning I woke up to him scaring my younger sons about Hurricane Irene. He was explaining how this hurricane would devastate Connecticut. This scared my nine year old. I told him that this was wrong and mean and to knock it off. He’s done this before with bad weather. He enjoys scaring them. Well, this set off a whole horrible outpouring of “you hate me” “you only care about their feelings”(meaning my younger son’s feelings) “everyone is against me” and so on. This went on for an hour. He stands over the baby gate, in his usual spot and just whines and cries. All I did was tell him not to scare the kids. He admited this was reasonable, but he doesn’t like to be told what to do.
    A couple weeks ago the police had to come because his genious APRN decided to go from 10mg of Abilify to 5mg. It took a couple of weeks, but he got to the point that if I asked him to complete simple tasks like, “hang your clothes outside so we don’t use the dryer” or “make sure you are really taking a shower”(he hates hygine), he literally cried and screamed all day long. This went on for a couple of days. Finally on a Thursday night he gradually lost it. He stood at his usual spot over the baby gate and ranted and raged at us about how he really hates me and he’s moving out and we’re horrible parents. It got to the point my husband said for him to go to his room and go to bed. He flipped on my husband and lunged at him. I had to call for an ambulance. They asked me why I couldn’t just take him. I said because he’s 6 foot tall and 200 pounds. I’m 5’6, and 8 1/2 months pregnant. They came and took him to the hospital, an adult ER, which I wasn’t happy with. He sat there all night perfect as an angel for the nurses and doctors. They insisted he was perfect and needed to go home. I am totally disgusted. His APRN took 2 days to get back to me about the medication issue. I had called her the day his symptoms were out of control. If she would have gotten back to me and authorized the 10mg again, we could have avoided the hospital trip.
    He acts like nothing happened. This is how he is with each incident that happens. Everythings all perfect. He has even exploded verbally, then said he feels better and is going to his room. He tries to pat me on the shoulders, hug me, and says this fake, “I loooove you”.

    When he was younger he would just obsess about a certain thing and then move onto another. That hasn’t changed to this day. Now its motorcycles and drawing them. This isn’t bad by any means, but its an obsession. Since he was younger, he always lived in what I called “imagination land” he was in his own little world. It is like a kid that plays dress up and acts the part, but with my son, he would stay in this role for long periods. Now, he has this thought that he has his own motorcycle design business. He has a website and everything. I’m not going to discourage him because there is nothing wrong with it and why would I crush that dream anyway. After all, he is very smart on top of being a smartass and he has a good chance of making it one day.
    He is too proper for his age in speech, he acts like a know it all, he talks down to us as his parents, he talks at us, he hates hygine, he’s always been clumsy, would rather be alone, says he hates freinds, although he has a couple now, but still says he hates them half the time,
    gets attached to inanimate objects, in his childhood he would hoard lint, pencil shavings, pencils, he only wears certain clothing items no matter how nice the clothes we buy him are, he forgets most of what we tell him to do, his movements are robotic, his voice is this deep monotone voice, his facial movements are stiff. I could go on.
    I’m at my end of what I can take. He’s more and more difficult to deal with by the day. He’s a bad example to the other kids. He hits himself in the head and the other kids just watch him. I don’t know what to do anymore. He’s perfect for everyone else and unless I actually record the way he is when hes in a rage, no one believes me!

    1. Hi,

      I am so sorry to hear about your story. I wish there was something I could do to help – I suspect your last comment about recording his rages and his anger towards you might be the best thing to do. Document his aggression toward you. I found the very best thing I could do with my stepson was to separate the behaviour from the person. So, acknowledging I loved him, I had to work out how to let him know his behaviour was unacceptable while he as a person was someone I cared about very much.

      I think the lack of empathy from children with Aspergers is the most difficult thing to deal with, aside from the inexplicable behaviours that make living with them tramuatic at times. We as parents want reciprocation for our love and affection, and when we don’t receive it we feel rejected. While this is no advice column, I think you documenting his behaviour in written and recorded form is the best way to see what triggers it, when it occurs, whether there is a pattern. With evidence you can then approach his physicians or anyone in the health services to get the help you need. Good luck! And I hope you find the opportunity and peace to love and enjoy your relationship with your son.

  6. Im not sure if this is refreshing or confronting for me! I have been in a relationship for just over 2 years and from the very beginning I felt my partners 2 children were different – not wired the same. A girl now 15 and a boy 9 thats in years I feel like the girl is about 10 and the boy 5ish in maturity or on an emotional level. Just recently the girl said ‘she didn’t know who I was’ meaning I’m not her mother so who am I? Like I said I have been with her father for 2 years and we have the children together for 5 nights a fortnight; so what’s the problem I’m her dad’s girlfriend! They will not take any direction from me. I have learnt to take a back step and let my partner do all the parenting but this segregates the family and only creates more anxiety. I have 2 adult children who don’t live with me and 2 at home 18 and 12 and the two at home are just over the lack of self displine and empathy towards them.

    My partners youngest has just been diagnosed with AS he has symptoms such as – lack of table manners, walking all over us when going for a walk or just down the street stepping on our feet and tripping over us etc, interrupting a conversation, no iniative, highs and lows in emotion and nothing inbetween its an emotional roller coaster, learning difficulties yet very bright in other areas, walking on his toes, rubbing his hands together, twirling his hair, lack of eye contact, yelling he hates us and wishes my daughter was dead (her father was killed in an accident so very touching about such statements) showing no empathy and on and on it goes. However, we can have 2 or 3 ‘good days’ in a row with no outward displays – but I find myself waiting for the bomb to go off!

    I have been the driving force behind getting him help or a diagnosised to assist us in helping him – but I find myself now that we do have a diagnosis quite depressed and worried this is a life time issue that will not go away just change as he develops. I find it quite difficult to like him as he is not an easy child to be with or warm to. I’m not allowed to touch him or give him a cuddle good night. The lack of recognition into who I am in this relationship has left me feeling very empty and what now?? I have the confidence to say his older sister is definatley on the spectrum somewhere she is a very angry child who is completely lost in this world. She has occused everyone of hating her and everything that happens is someone elses fault – never has taken any responsibility. At the moment she is not seeing her father because of the way she has treated me and my daughter.

    Unfortunatley the mother is a weak mild anxious woman and has smoothed things over not dealt with issues. No disipline or rules – eat what you want, go to bed when you want, watch MA tv or movies as long as kids were out of her hair.

    I am keen to hear any suggestions of how to deal with any of these issues – the little things all add up to big issues when its on a continual basis. I find I get quite anxious when its every second Thursday and my partners kids are back again. Not a good way to live.

    Thanks for you any help.

  7. Della, there should be a site devoted completely to this topic – it’s complex and tough. Step parenting is a tricky set-up, add to that a child that is on the spectrum and the feelings of isolation and separateness are just amplified. You sound like a warm and empathic woman – the situation you’re in is testing at the very least.

    I’ve have been finding my feet with similar issues over the past two years. Just briefly, I have been in a relationship with a wonderful man for two and a half years who has a 13 year old boy with AS. We have recently changed arrangements from him staying with us 4 days a week over weekends to 7 days with us/7 days with his mother. I don’t have children. We have been through 7 IVF treatments with no luck over the past year (which brings its own set of issues). The new arrangement means we get a break but it feels to me like it’s just time to rejuvenate for the onslaught of 7 straight days with a child that has very few endearing qualities.

    Everything you mentioned (interrupting conversations without being pulled up, sullen and moody, emotionally much younger than his years, impossible to have a conversation with, no eye contact, no touching, no warmth, etc, etc) is trying and really difficult to break through to make a connection. I have several nephews and nieces, 3 of which are of a similar age to my step son, and I just can’t help but compare them and feel a huge loss about the bond that I would love to cultivate.

    The way I have recently tried to deal with it is to be more open with my husband (thanks Jess, good advice!). I let him know that social skills are really important, not only for me, but for his son. Getting into teenage years not too many of his peers are going to put up with his, what comes across as, arrogant, entitled attitude. This plays out with us through making sure my husband knows what is expected of his son in terms of manners at the dinner table, for example. We go out for dinner and if his son starts monologueing and repeating himself, my husband has to pull him up. If we’re at home we have strict rules about time on the computer, about saying please and thank you. As a step parent I’ve chosen to not be the disciplinarian. This means that I have to rely on my husband and use him as a conduit for my needs. A delicate place to be.

    I understand your dread when your step child is to arrive. And the relief I’m sure you feel when he’s gone. It is truly not a good way to live. The only way I can see to help this is to be open and honest with your partner, to find some acceptance in your heart for how your step child is, and to work hard at getting your needs met. It’s your life. You’ve chosen to share it with your partner, with that comes a difficult child. To ensure that you don’t get lost in the maelstrom, make sure you voice you needs, and the needs of your children. The AS child can take over but truly doesn’t need to. It’s a condition that, with some hard work as a team, can improve.

    Best of luck and deepest empathy for where you’re at.

    1. Hi Sarah, hi Della,

      I agree Sarah – I was just about to say the most traffic I have had on this blog, which is supposed to be about my travels in research is about step-parenting children with Aspergers. I agree, there needs to be a site dealing with only this topic!

      It’s a fraught and challenging role being step-parent to a child with Aspergers, hard enough if you are a birth parent, let alone if you are a step. I’ve continued to have challenges with my step-son, but they are consistent ones and we are coping well, and I am so lucky to have a loving, communicative husband who cares about my opinion. In fact, I think he has more difficulty dealing with his son than I do. As I have previously noted, once I made the decision in my own mind that my step son had Aspergers – no medical diagnosis forthcoming, thanks heaps from the denying birth mum – he became much easier to deal with. I changed my approach and opinion and stopped taking his behaviour personally. I agree, Sarah, Della and all the other people commenting on this subject seem caring, empathetic souls who just want to learn how to deal with these frustrating children.

      Della, you are also dealing with a teenage girl, and her responses are going to be partly mediated by the surge of hormones occurring in adolescence. She sounds like me at her age! And I’m not Aspy. (So I’m told). Look, I can’t offer any advice other than what works for me. For teenagers, it’s a horrible time for them anyway. I’m not sure there’s much one CAN do for an unhappy young woman except to remain consistent in your behaviour. Also, your role IS indeterminate! Always will be, according to the step kids. So the best you can do is be good to yourself – you are DELLA, you are in a relationship with your boyfriend. The children don’t quite know what to do, either, I suspect. If you want to assign yourself an identity for the children’s sake then perhaps discuss this with your partner, as there are four children in this relationship who deserve two happy adults round them. As Sarah said, talk to your husband. Keep the communication open, for your sake and the sake of ALL your kids.

      Good luck to you! Great to hear how you’re going, too, Sarah.

  8. I was really pleased to read this blog and I am daring to comment from the other side of the fence, I am a step parent with all of the joys, stresses and traumas that THAT brings, but the aspie child in the mix is mine.
    I have been living with my partner for nearly 4 years, we each have two dependant children, all boys mine 16 and 13, his nearly 16 and nearly 14. My eldest son was diagnosed with aspergers when he was 10. Although he has progressed well especially since i managed to get him into a school which understands his needs a little better there is much that he still struggles with. Changes in routine, noise, stress, confusion about understanding other peoples motives and interpreting body language and tone of voice, an attitude which comes over as arrogant or cold a pedantic way of speaking the intense need to be right, it doesn’t help that he is also highly intelligent and struggles to sometime remember that not everybodys mind can follow the leaps in logic that his can. On top of this he is a normal lazy, self obsessed, irritating teenager learning to cope with hormones, girls, college applications, driving licence and the future looming uncertainly in front of him, and if there is one thing that aspies can’t stand it’s any uncertainty. I recognise many of his symptoms in myself and in my own father, I can frequently ‘get’ where he is coming from, especially when he has made one of those irritating literal connections which seem so intentional especiall in one so clever. On the whole I think we muddle through lurching from day to day hoping that the final goal of personal and financial independance is within our grasp. When I look at how far he has come I don’t think it’s a pipe dream.
    My problem is my partner, he insists that my son is ‘out of control’ he takes the attiude (both teenager and aspie) personally and has suddenly taken to going head to head in arguments with him at the worst possible times such as in the morning before school, ( a time which I keep on a strict routine to avoid stress and meltdowns as much as possible).
    He seems to view all of my sons behaviour as intentional, (even though he has known him for over 4 years ) although this isn’t the first time he has struggle to cope with him this is the worst. I feel like I have two angry teenagers in the house and he won’t talk to me, won’t tell me even what he means by ‘out of control’ Apart from the fact that when I intervened in the shouting match this morning which was verging on a full meltdown my son shouted at me to shut up.

    Now I know that when he has calmed down we will have a discussion about better ways to ask someone to back off so that you can calm down (a deep seated aspie need) that don’t sound so rude and agressive. I know he will listen and he will do his best to remember next time, it wasn’t that many years ago that a melt down caused by (then ignorant of his diagnosis and needs) teachers meant physical attack, he has come a very long way as I tried to explain to my other half when he said my son was ‘out of control’ becasue he was acting like a pain in the A teenager that he doesn’t skip school, he does all his work, he gets A* grades, he is applying to college, he does the chores that i ask him to do, he spontaneously offers to carry shopping for me, he has excellent table manners and comes and sits at the table and eats the meal i have prepared with the family every night pleasantly. So he’s lazy self centred and ignorant – He’s 16 – we will keep on working on it I have to literally teach him social rules, but how do i explain to my son that he has to treat my partner with respect and without agression when the courtesy won’t be returned and my other half is biting with sarcasm and aggression and every slight both the intentional ignorant teenager ones and the unintentional aspie ones. I love them both I don’t know what to do, any suggestions more than welcome xx
    Jane

  9. I can relate to alot of the above (apart from the agression – if anything my SS (nearly 12) tries too hard & is too polite, but unnaturally so)?!? What makes it particularly hard for us is that my DH & SS immigrated to Australia from England 2 1/2 years ago and we have had very little time to ourselves since then (as his family is back in the UK & although my family/friends help out occationally, which I am very greatful for, they find him ‘difficult’ too). He has only just been diagnosed with Aspergers but was diagnosed with Inattentive ADD about 8 months ago and I think my husband feels alot of guilt not only at not wanting to spend more time with him than he does, but for taking him away from his family/everything he knows in the UK (although SS seems mostly fine with the move) …. half the time he is in denial that anything is wrong, and the other half blames his ‘odd’ behaviour on me and our situation. I too don’t feel like I can bond with him and feel uncomfortable when he is around and while I understand how hard it must be for my husband it hurts that he thinks I am even partly to blame … he seems to think SS’s behaviour is a result of my not bonding with/loving him, rather than seeing that I can’t bond/love him because of his behaviour and he says it only started when they moved here which isn’t true, although it is becoming more and more obvious as he gets older?!?! It’s nice to know at least that I’m not alone …

  10. This blog has been such a breath of fresh air, so I’m not alone in this! My boyfriend’s son has not been diagnosed with anything, but a lot of his behaviours are described here and my boyfriend has been doing some online research and suggests that AS could be the reason behind his 11 year old son’s horrendous behaviour. My boyfriend has been living with me and my son for almost 3 years. His son is here every Sunday and Monday. I dread Sundays – all the time now, which is sad given that they are currently my only day off. I have a 16 year old son (who is a pretty good kid for a normal 16 year old) and my 23 year old daughter doesn’t live with us. I am about at the end of my rope with my BF and his son. I actually think my BF shows a fair few AS traits too! Lack of basic table manners, and quite a few other things. My BF talks constantly about himself – every conversation has to be about him and then his son is the opposite – hardly talks and absolutely no eye contact. His Mom does not discipline at all and I was raised and have raised my children with expectations of manners, especially at the dinner table, so naturally (for me) I expect table manners from my BF and his son. Meal times on Sundays and Mondays are like a battle zone – not good for anyone. I understand about not taking the behaviour personally, that may help me some, but as I told my BF when we talked about this tonight I don’t know that I can come back from being pushed so far over the edge. I dread his son coming here, I am uncomfortable in my own home whenever he is here, or will be here that day. I can’t warm to him at all, no matter how hard I try. Thanks for all the posts here, at least they have given me a sense of companionship. As several have said, being a step-parent is difficult enough, but if my BF’s son (and maybe my BF) does have AS then it is even more difficult.
    I do hope my BF will at least try and get his son tested, so that if his does have AS that he can hopefully be given some guidance, by his parents, teachers, therapists, whoever, to help him through his teen years and into adulthood. I just don’t think I’ll be around to see it.

  11. Hi, i have read almost all of these comments and finally recieved some relief. I have been married to the love of my life for 7 years now i love my stepchildren very much which happen to be two girls one 9 one 11 the oldest being the one we’re assuming has aspergers. my issue is that we have all agreed that she most likely has AS but as i did all my research for the past 3 years and have been the only driving force to get her help her mother has lied to us about taking her to a specialist and finally told us shes not going to do anything about it because she has no time or money and she doesnt want to give the girl a crutch or excuse to act out. we only get to see them every two weeks for just the weekend so whatever plans we try to implement goes out the window as soon as they go back to mom. i also feel as if she is getting worse. she lies, rude, disrespectful, no manners, cannot carry on a convo with her for very long because of the social awkwardness and she also can be very violent when she gets frustrated and the list goes on. this past weekend she purposely hurt her father really bad for just playing around with her and he sent her to her room because she also lied about it and said she didnt do anything. she is also violent to my 6 year old that i have with my husband. my 6 year old is miserable when shes around bc she acts like she hates him and they constantly fight every time shes there and i usually discipline him harder and teach him to be the bigger person but thats a challenge sometimes being hes only 6 and the 11 year old should be the bigger person but shes practically on the same maturity level as him. all this being said i feel like i am the only one who sees this as a problem bc my husband wont do anything for one bc we only have them for a short time and two he knows his ex doesnt care. i am at the point to where i leave with my son for the weekend bc im miserable when shes there noones happy my son is picking up on her behavior and its starting to get to where its difficult to like her or warm up to her. what do i do if neither parents want to help her and my son and i are miserable not to mention the fact of how i constantly stress about how much harder life is gonna be for her when she gets older and noone is trying to help her and i cant do anything about it being im the stepmom. i want to help her i do love her and i want our household to be happy but how???

  12. Hi, Can anyone suggest how I can truely make my husband understand how difficult this is (see my situation further up) as while sometimes he is supportive, other times he almost seems like I am making a big deal out of nothing? They have been in the UK for a month visiting family & I have noticed such a difference in my health/mood (I have recently been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia which is hugely affected by stress) but I am now having anxiety attacks just at the thought of my SS returning?!?! I love my DH dearly, but I just don’t know how I am going to cope with SS going to high school next year and being home even more than he was in Primary school (with no after school/vacation care)?!?! Please can somebody help me …. :o/

    1. Hi Vanessa, thanks for your story and query – I’m afraid I’m not much good here. Children with Aspergers/ Autism spectrum disorders need support from ALL family members and it’s so hard when you feel like the only one trying to manage the situation. The only strategies I can think of may include changing YOUR lifestyle somewhat so that you come into less contact with your SS. If you do not work from home then I suggest getting out and about from about 3pm until 5pm might be a short term solution – taking a walk, meeting friends for afternoon tea, doctor appointments, grocery shopping; finding ways to manage YOUR stress without trying to manage your SS. I’m going to post a follow up story to my situation and maybe there will be some solutions to be found there. Hang in there – you are not alone!

  13. This has been a huge help. Mostly to feel not so alone.
    I am a very new step mum to a 15 year AS boy. After being a single mum, bringing up my own son (12) for 7 years, I finally found the love of my life.
    All was great until they moved in and I discovered (while running my business from home) that SS does not EVER leave the flat. In 4 weeks (school hols), he has been out of the flat and away from his computer for about 5 hours.
    My son is a very sociable kid (but a typical 12 year old who’s definitely not perfect) and (during holidays especially) is out of the house almost all day and has sleep overs at his friends’ places often, so my partner and her son have time away from my son but we don’t get time out from either of them, ever. My partner is injured so is also at home all the time, which would be ok but SS & partner fight A LOT.
    He is often incredibly rude & belligerent and really believes he knows everything. I’ve tried to engage with him in his main obsession, computers, and although he asks for my help, he doesn’t like to take it if it’s not exactly what he wants or expects. This means I’m pulling back from helping.
    Because my biz is so new, I am constantly pretty stressed about money and getting more work so this situation of having fights & constant loud laughing, swearing and banging in the flat is quite hard to work around. His only exercise is to pace the flat (around my desk as part of the circuit) while laughing and dropping objects constantly. We live in a small flat so it makes it seem even louder.
    I have never let my own son play on computers more than 2 hours max per day but he is now upset that SS plays 10-15 hours every day on his computer while my son is hassled (by me) to go outside to play/get fresh air/exercise & see his friends.
    The hard thing is that it feels like my partner seems to expect a lot from my son because he doesn’t have an AS diagnosis and is hard on my parenting when he isn’t perfect, but wants me to be empathetic and understanding of SS. There have been a few incidents where I don’t think the kids have been treated equally due to SS’s diagnosis & my partner thinks this is ok.
    I actually like SS when he’s not acting out and I’ve had a bit of space/time out but I do worry that being stressed so near to the start doesn’t bode too well for the future. I also worry that never getting any space or time out at home is going to really take it’s toll.
    Thanks for letting me vent and read other’s stories.
    Great blog post – you have provided a great forum for people to support and share info. Thanks again.

    1. Thanks Jodi, seeing everyone’s comments from this one post has made me realise that sometimes we really DO need a forum like this! I may have to write a continuing story of my SS and extend the thread somewhat. I appreciate your comments and story. Thank you for sharing!

  14. Hi, have been a relief reading all your stories as I have a 10 years old SS with mild AS myself. He spends a weekend every other week with us but this two years of marriage have been very difficult for me as, although I think I am very understanding with his condition, I notices how my husband his ex and close family have spoilt him so very much. Show my husband their errors has cost me a lot of stress and arguments with him at the point I think I couldn’t cope with the situation anymore. SS is very dependant and his mum treat him like his little boy, that still three years old and need her excessively (he is only child both sides). I think she loves that! Along with that, the boy is obsess with cartoons TV programs and we reckon she let him watch hours and hours of DVD every day. He is very behind at school, which I found very sad as I know this AS children are very good with reading and computers, intellectual stuff, etc. In our case my stepson doesn’t like to read at all and hate computers and knowledge when is presented in a different way than a DVD. This is one of the reasons why I started to think his mum is not doing a very good job with the kid.
    After a lot of stress and worries, I have realise it is not my direct problem and recently I have been trying, after some arguments with the boy, to be more conscious about it, and do not feel responsible for his future as he was mine own child. After this new attitude towards my SS, things with my husband are getting better and we have not argued at all about this issue anymore. I think it’s the best attitude I have taken. Hope I keep this way, not intervening much in this matter. Seems easy but took me two years!!!…. very tiring and a lot of tears. After this two years my husband is more conscious about his son’s capabilities and is doing a better job, so I feel that he doesn’t need me much to help the boy.

    The main reason why I writing you today is because I would like to know if someone can give me some advice. I am 14 weeks pregnant with our first child and I am a bit worried about how my SS is going to take it. I don’t know how to start the conversation and make it a HAPPY moment.
    He has mentioned a few times he would not like siblings, that he will hate that. When we started planning the baby my husband mentioned some advantages of having siblings (company in his bedroom, he is very scareish boy, having friends for ever), and he kind of agree, but as an As child he tend to be selfish and self-centred. He doesn’t like to share his toys and even was crying his last birthday because he has to share his cake with his classmates!!! He has been the only chid for 10 years in both sides of the families and I am a bit scared of his reaction and also about the remote possibility he could harm the baby as they will have to share bedroom.
    Somebody have experience this before?

    Thank you Jess for your blogg. Is nice not feeling alone 🙂

    1. Hi Anne, Great to hear your story and congratulations on your impending new motherhood! A very exciting time for you. However, your SS will NOT like it. This is because children with Aspergers cannot cope with rapid change. You need to accept that it will take many months of explaining to him what is going to happen for him to accept his new baby sibling. The first time you announce it will be difficult. Accept that and you can then move on to dealing with the “sharing room scenario”. He WILL have to share his room, he WILL have to learn to connect and deal with his sibling, he WILL have to do his homework! If you are very afraid of him harming the baby all you should do is tell your husband of your fear and discuss possible alternate scenarios.

      Great work re you stepping back. It’s the best thing. Once you and your husband have the baby perhaps your husband will see that his previous behaviour with SS is not appropriate in the long term, especially if he has to then deal with a new baby and perhaps new family.

      I wish you all the very best with your family and hope that my suggestions are of some use.
      Cheers!

      1. Thank you Jess for your warm reply. Your words help a lot. Is nice to feel someone can understand my situation. Take care

  15. Every weekend visitation is too much in my book. My 17 yr old aspie stepson gets on my nerves within 10 minutes of arriving in my house

  16. I have 2 SS. The younger one is 17 and has aspergers and “anxiety” issues. Mum is an enabler, labels him disabled, places no responsibility or expectations on him. He is allowed to be on his laptop playing world of Warcraft and other games every waking minute of everyday that he is not in school. If we try to set appropriate expectations on him, like getting up before 1 in the afternoon and showering we are “mean”. He is obese and no one seems to want to help him better himself. When we tried he refused to come over and told everyone that would listen that dad is mean, abusive and causing him nightmares and stress. The high school even called in my husband to discuss this. We enrolled him in karate and the seAnce is great with kids of all needs. Mum allowed him to quit because it gave him headaches. My thought it was time away from his video games and actual physical activity. He got a job bagging groceries and mum leg him quit because it was too difficult. I have had naggers who have Down’s syndrome who are fantastic at their job!!! My thought yet again time away from his computer. We bought his laptop for school and we took it away for failing grades. This prompted him refusing to come over unless he could have his computer back. He then went thru withdrawal symptoms, classic withdrawal symptoms but mum stated he was depressed and he needed his laptop to soothe himself.? Ridiculous…..

    1. I am so glad that I came across this website. I have felt so bad feeling a dislike and disconnect toy future 4 year old step son. He is so socially akward its embarassing, only cares about his trains and would much rather play by him self most of the time. He cannot give eye contact to save his life and sometime when angry will lash out and hit him self. Doea understand that other can have toy trains also and is constantly fighting verbally and physically with other kids that dont see his view. Say I am stupid hates me but unless I am buying him or doing what he wants. If I talk to him about anytjing bad he shuts down and wont speak or will talk real low, no tantrums unless you consider random outbursts of hitting himself. I felt sooo bsd because I dreaded the days he came to our house, my whole attitude changes and maybe this is why…what do yall think does he or not? Also I havent told my fiancee any of this afraid he will be offended and I know his mother will think its a direct insult. Help! Anyone relate?

  17. Dear Lisam, I understand completely how furious that situation make you feel, but my advice, based on my own experience, is step back a bit of that situation that is making you feel so upset. At the end of the day, although we are there to SUPPORT our partner, the children are not our direct responsibility and we can help only with some suggestions. It is VERY difficult, as in some cases, like mine, we feel that mums need more treatment than their AS child and that they are an obstacle for the good development of the child.

    Dear Tiffany, the first thing I can say is that you should talk to your fiancee. It’s very important you have an open communication about this issue as you will be dealing with it for the rest of the time you are together. My mood also changes when my SS comes home and I can’t help feel bad for it but at the same time I can’t help not feeling in that way. In the beginning of my marriage my husband used to ‘force me’ to go to the park or forest with them, but I realise I don’t like it and was not fun for me at all, so I spoke to him and now that don’t feel the pressure join them more frequently, and the most important, my husband understood and respect my decision. I am in a better mood when they are back and I have had some time off from my SS that most of the times does not stop talking with that peculiar tone Aspergers children have.

    Hope this help a bit! Good luck guys and be strong.

    Anne

  18. So glad to have come across this blog post. I have a grown stepson with Asperger’s. I’ve started carrying a book or newspaper for those times when he stops all normal conversation and launches into a monologue on one of the his pet subjects. Are any of you on Facebook? I’d like to start a closed group called Stepmoms of Kids with Asperger’s, where we can stay in contact. Please look up the group and let’s continue this discussion.

    1. I am a 51 year old mother of three grown children ages 23-32. I left an abusive marriage after 25 years. Long story short, rekindled an old flame from 30 years ago and remarried. My husbands previous wife took in a little girl who was a neighbor and not being cared for. My husband and previous wife(whom I will call Jill) got guardianship of the child. After my husband and “Jill” split up, the child lived with Jill. We had been together only a few months when “Jill” passed away. So, we moved the child in with us. And so it begins…I believe she is an Aspie…have done much research and all the signs are there. The child has been over-protected and undisciplined, and anything she wants…she gets. I have made a little headway in changing that. The child is now 11 and still has no diagnosis(Ive been pushing for one). She struggles socially and academically. I’M TIRED, no I’m weary! It seems she can do no wrong. It is affecting our lives in an unhealthy manner…we cant have sex because the of the child, we cant go out because of the child, etc. I find I have more resentment as time goes on. I have had a rough life raising three children practically alone, not to mention helping raise grandchildren as well. The child has attached herself to me and I cannot even run to the grocery store w/o her. If I do try to leave w/o her she cries uncontrollably. I can’t take much more! I love my husband with all my heart but something has to give. Any suggestions?

      1. Hi Molli, I’m curious that you’ve not been able to get a diagnosis for the child – who is preventing you from doing so? In any case, depending on where you live (ie which country) if you have guardianship of a child that’s not yours you have to go through various legal and governmental channels to maintain the care of the child, which surely includes a health check of the child. At least, I believe that’s what happens here in Australia!

        A similar situation occurred with an acquaintance of mine, who has ended up raising and taking guardianship of 2 children (who lived next door) who were being neglected by their drug-addicted mum. Long story short, both children have some form of Aspie, possibly part induced by the drugs mum was taking and their early neglect and malnourishment. Nevertheless there is little conflict about how to care for the children because the carer is single, and the kids are doing great now.

        It’s clear the child has attached to you and that is a great thing – it means that you are seen as stable and safe. So My suggestion is that you go get a diagnosis anyway, especially if you are doing most of the caring, and apologise later. Then you and your husband will probably need counselling in terms of dealing with both your new marriage and how to care for the child. Perhaps there is a support group in your neighbourhood or town that offers assistance for people in your situation? So sorry I can’t be more helpful! I know how hard it is to see a child clearly needing firm guidance and boundaries not being given any – I regularly complain to my husband that our son, who is behaving like a typical lazy teenager at this point, is only like this because hubby has not put any boundaries in place, such as going outside to play, or only allowing 2 hours per day on the computer, etc etc. Not the child’s fault if Dad doesn’t set rules and then explodes with frustration because child is being horrid!

        Anyway, good luck and take a deep breath – the solution is close at hand.

  19. Hi everybody. My girlfriend (we are not living together) has three children, the youngest (a boy) beeing 6 years old with AS. I have two boys, the older one 7 years old.
    I really do relate to what has been said about not liking the AS child. I feel bad about it, but sometimes I just can’t stand him. I’m fully aware of that he can’t do anything about being AS. But that has only to a very limited extent helped me tolerate him better (sorry about how bad this sounds). He is extremely intellegent and to some extent speaks like an adult. He ponders about things but most often about something that is not very well known, to us mortals or about computer games. To sum it up, I would say that he just generally has a very unpleasant presence.
    My son (7) and him, do not get along. There have been times that I’ve had to spend the majority of the weekend to make sure, that they don’t argue or get into a fight. This boy can be extremely loud, laughing and crying almost at the same time, especially when he is playing on the computer. By letting him play on the computer and leaving him alone, he doesn’t bother anybody else (as long as he is not very loud). But he often gets extremely angry, when somebody else makes any sort of sound, e.g. simply by two persons speaking normally to each other in the same room as him. I can’t wait to get away when I’ve spent some part of a day with him and I worry about having to meet him. My son really dislikes him, as they often get into fights. My son never has problems with other children and never gets into fights. My son has recently started saying to me, that he doesn’t want us to visit them.

    My ex, is diagnosed with Tourettes, ADHD, OCD etc. It was a really difficult relationship, to the extent that i really thought I would die, if I would stay in that relationship. I feel there is a similarity with how I feel when I’m near this boy as I did with my ex. I.e. this unplesant presence. I don’t know if that makes sense to you, but it makes me want to just run away, far away.

    The thought of us starting to live together makes me shiver and fills me with fear. I’ve mentioned this to my girlfriend (took the opertunity and said it gently, when she started talking about how she was sometimes just giving up on him) and it made her very sad. She felt that I was basically telling her that we would never live together.

    If you know of a website on the subject, I would welcome the information.

    Greetings from Iceland and please excuse my poor english.

  20. I live with my partner of 3 yrs and when I first met his son I thought he was a little different to others his age. Now he is 13 his oddness shows even more. He soils his pants because he is so involved in the computer or games he plays, he is bullied at school and he thinks he is always right. He has no friends and unless he is talking about subjects he knows about he will not really join in social conversations. He often butts into conversations between me and my partner with subjects of his choice with no consideration for us. If we are out walking together and me and my partner hold hands he will walk in front of me and slow down so I have to break link with his dad or I have to make him aware of what he is doing. I am struggling when he visits and stays, he dominates my home at times and his dad is too soft with him. He as AS and just diagnoised but my partner is in denial and does not believe there is anything wrong with his sons behaviour. It was nice to read about other step parents and their struggles. My biggest worry is that I will split up with the man I love very much because I will not be able to cope with his son and the aspergers.

    1. Hi Susan, sorry to hear about your struggles with your step-son. Often, it seems, biological parents turn a blind eye to their children’s issues which causes havoc for others. Your best approach is to keep reading about how to deal with children like this and bear in mind he is not deliberately being awful. Your husband probably shares some traits with his son, which I suspect is often the reason for ostrich-head-in-sand behaviour! Good luck and stay strong.

  21. Thankyou for your answer.. I have done a lot of reading around the subject and my partner is making an appointment to speak with the people who made the diagnosis. I hope he also starts to accept the difference his son has, so we can talk openly to each other and help his son the best we can.

  22. Hi again its Sue
    I am still struggling a little with my step son. The toilet is the thing, My 21 yr old daughter and her 21 yr old boyfriend live with us. So with 4 adults and a 13 yr old in the house the bathroom is well used. The main problem is my step son will go the bathroom and stay in for long periods of time even when he is aware that others are waiting, especially needed the bathroom before work. He then leaves the bathroom quietly and shuts the door not telling us the bathroom is free. we therefore think he is still in there. If we say are you in bathroom he often does not answer. We are all getting very frustrated about this and are beginning to think he knows what he is doing and it causes friction. His dad remains very soft with him and if we say anything we are made to feel bad. Any suggestions please..

    1. This might sound a bit facetious. Open the door to the bathroom if there is no reply. Repeat. If he is IN the bathroom, do not back out – he has been in there too long and is not following protocol for bathroom use. Explain bathroom use. Put it in the bathroom in writing. Ensure that all adults adhere also to rules of the bathroom. Reinforce this with him. He clearly knows what he is doing and frankly, sounds like he’s being a crappy teenager at this point. There is no excuse for poor bathroom etiquette! Alternatively, if you own your house, discuss with hubby the possibility of adding a separate bathroom or toilet. If hubby does not like this expensive solution (!) you now have ammunition for setting some house rules re bathroom. Good luck!

  23. Thankyou for your reply, I am not married to my stepsons dad and the house is mine.. he stays with us alternate Tues every Thurs and alternate weekends fri-sun. I have yet to make his dad aware of what he is doing but I am often seen as being picky but it is an issue for me and my family members. Thanks for your suggestions…

    1. Hi Susan, well, that’s easy! Your house: your rules. I hate being seen as picky (and frankly I’m not) but that’s why mothers are good at what they do: they point out that, no, sugary breakfast cereal is NOT a food group, that no, you CAN’T go out til 3am on a Thursday night, you’re still in high school, and, by removing your socks from the floor people will not die of exposure to your BO.

      Good luck, and I think you have a chance to set this rule, bearing in mind the kid is 13 and all 13yr olds spend WAY too long in the bathroom anyway!

  24. Hello
    I desperately need some help and support, and reading all your posts is the only thing that has come close to understanding my situation.
    I have a 13 (nearly 14) year old step son who i have lived with for nearly 2 years….and far from feeling as though we have become closer, I feel more and more distant to him all the time.
    His mother is schizophrenic, which means that we (his father) have full custody, and i am lucky if i get 1 night off every other week !!!!! There is no let up from his behaviour ! And frankly his grandparents on the mothers side are useless !! He has a granddad on his fathers side but his grandmother has got advanced alzheimers.
    I also had a baby last year which was diagnosed with an extremely rare genetic disorder, which means i am a full time mum and carer, which only makes my situation harder.

    My step son still has to be reminded to say please and thank you, it does not come naturally to him. He speaks in a very posh tone, which doesn’t come from either side of the family. His table manners and ability to use a knife and fork are limited. He would spend all day in the shower if you let him. He has be be constantly reminded to clean his teeth.
    His social interaction is questionable. He seems to like people being around, but struggles to involve himself in conversations. When he does, he constantly interrupts!
    He is a know-it-all, and others (particularly my) opinion doesn’t matter.
    Safe proofing my house for a baby has been extremely tiring, as i am constantly having to explain over and over again the dangers.
    He comes in from school and is on his laptop until bedtime, which to be honest is usually 10 o clock at night!!
    He constantly helps himself to chocolate bars and crisps which is going to cause me a nightmare as my other childs condition means a extremely limited diet (ultra strict vegan through medical issues).
    I am worried that my baby will copy his behaviour. Who incidentally he is incapable of playing games with. He will occasionally pick him up (at which point i have to have eyes like a hawk) but he does not seem capable of make believe.

    Everything is so exhausting as i feel l have to be watching and listening all the time as there is a baby in the house. He wouldn’t deliberately hurt anyone i’m sure, but his silliness can create dangerous situations.

    I have not discussed this with my partner as he is the only thing we argue about. He has bought him up for quite a long time and although he is a caring loving father, there has been absolutely no discipline and i suspect he wouldn’t hear of Aspergers syndrome!!

    I am totally at a loss with how i am going to continue in this situation. I have enough to worry about with my own child having a life threatening condition, and i constantly have to cope with what comes across as blatant stupidity and disrepect.

    Please help !!

    xxxxx

  25. I forgot to say he rarely goes out with his friends (maybe once every 4-6 weeks). Hasn’t got any ability in sport, and even struggles to get off the floor. And he does a similar thing as the lady above said, he walks in front of your foot steps or clips the backs of your ankles when walking along (he does this to everyone, so i don’t think its deliberate). I promise ive finished now 😉 x

    1. Gee, you could be writing my story … I can relate on so many levels (same age, we have him full time without a break too as his mum is no use and is over in the UK anyway, no family support (we don’t even get a night off except for the odd occasion a friend feels sorry for us and has him), over protective husband, a lot of the same issues (& almost identical characteristics), my first baby on the way (which worries me)! Not much advice unfortunately except for hang in there … after 4 years we are finally starting to learn to live with each other a little more harmoniously (although unfortunately I still don’t feel like I’ve formed a bond with him and wonder at this point if I ever will?)?!? Don’t get me wrong it’s still bloody hard/frustrating but his diagnosis and hubby’s acceptance of it plus learning (trial & error) what works best for him and his brain (ie he sets reminders on his phone; 6pm every night he sets the table, 7pm every night he has a shower etc which takes some of the pressure off me not having to remind him of every single thing) has helped a bit?!?! I feel for you but you’re right it is slightly comforting knowing we’re not the only ones struggling so …. you’re not in Sydney by any chance are you?

      1. I’m afraid not. We are in the UK. Congrats on the pregnancy, is this your first ? When are you due? x

  26. I’m so glad I’ve found this forum and are not alone with this problem… My stepson has AS and is 18, his mum died when he was 9 and I met his dad when he was 11 … When I first met him he was incredibly polite but always stayed in his bedroom , he always seemed different to my girls who are now 14 and 16 but I always put it down to losing his mum or being an only child.. His dad could never understand when I met him how my girls played with their toys downstairs in my company !! His dad, now my husband did explain his son had extra support at school but I never knew why…. However 3 years later after we had moved in together an educational statement was posted from my stepsons high school , I saw the letters ASD and everything then fell into place , it explained everything about his behaviour that I had witnessed. When I first met my stepson he couldn’t swim, ride a bike, didn’t like animals or fairground rides and had never been to cinema so needless to say when I was left alone on school holidays it was a challenge !!!! After I had found out the diagnosis I met with school etc for advice as much as I love my husband dearly he doesn’t recognise a diagnosis with my stepson and to be honest I think he also has traits of AS too. The following years have been extremely hard work as my SS has more retreated into himself , family holidays stopped three years ago as he found it overwhelming due to hiding himself away all the time and then having to make an effort whilst we were on holiday , even his stepsisters found it hard to cope with he would latch on too something eg badminton and then constantly harass the girls to play with him. Family conversation with him is now at an all time low with just hello and goodbye ,as he does socialise almost everyday but when at home he is in his room… I have noticed if we are all at home he will not come out of his room until late afternoon or unless we are all out of the house. The relationship with his dad as you can imagine is at an all time low, and probably wasn’t that strong in the first place … I know his dad hasn’t a clue how to deal with him and just calls him lazy . Nearly two years ago his gran died and he was left £10000 ,his dad set up bank accounts ISA etc and allocated him £1000 , trusting that he would be sensible , after many arguments with his dad i insisted he was spending all of his money and my voice wasn’t heard I was powerless, his dad was ignorant of this and just told me that it was his money and constantly questioned his son as to how much and constantly checked his bank statements which were in fact old balances he was showing us…. Sure enough the money lasted just over 12 months… Now he hasn’t a penny ,asks us for no money but has no inclination to get a part time job this has been going on for nearly twelve months, when questioned he says there no jobs when my daughter has been applying for lots of jobs ready for then she leaves school next month ……. His college is suffering ,doing A levels and poor attendance and having to do an extra year because his results are sooo bad , when we give him guidance and tell him off it’s just “it will be ok ” so frustrating we have to shout at him to get a reaction. If anyone is still reading this my point is he is a constant worry as I see him going nowhere and as much as I try to guide him or scare him there is no reaction whatsoever which makes me mad , his constantly lies to keep us happy but to be fair I see him going nowhere but he shows not a care in the world . Is this a typical Mild AS person .? I feel like I’m living with a stranger and it’s not comfortable. To top it all he doesn’t shave, clean clothes or have a shave …it’s heartbreaking to watch and I know if he was my own son this wouldn’t be going on as much x

  27. Thankfully I found this site!

    I married and moved into a place with my daughter, husband and his two sons five years ago. Three years ago, we had a daughter together. My older daughter and the boys are so close in age that they are literally the same age for 10 days in February. When they were all 9-10 years-old it was a crazy adjustment. All of my friends and family said that they don’t know if they could have taken a chance on marriage because my stepson was/is so annoying.

    Back then, he would try and control every situation. He was a nervous talker of useless facts, frayed his clothes because his hands are always moving, ate until he threw up, completely socially backward and gay. It was horrible. He hated me because his mother abandoned him and because I gave him rules. My life is/was hell. I had to enter therapy to put up with it all because my husband ignored/s it all.

    Now that we have all lived together for 5 years, he is better. However, completely socially retarded, cannot ride a bike, catch a ball, screams if I ask him to do chores, is a lippy jerk- (picture the worst bratty 15 year-old daughter) and even though he is out and we are a gay friendly family, he wants extra special attention for being gay. He tries every way possible to manipulate and use all the family resources (money, time, energy) for him. I do discipline him because my husband won’t and he sees his mother rarely. My SS has no common sense and accuses me of being mean when I am annoyed, make comments or discipline him when he does truly ridiculous things.

    Example: Yesterday he cleaned the bathroom and I had him take off the shower curtain liner and curtain to wash them. Later, when the curtains weren’t put back up yet, he took a shower without them. I asked why anyone would do that–he said that I told him to take a shower. Is that a lack of common sense? Stupidity? Is he trying to piss me off? Why didn’t he say or do anything about it? Whatever it is, I will never feel the same about him as I do about my own. I just cannot. I am so irritated that my life is spent having to correct the mistakes of someone who seems so stupid.It is a waste of my life because I don’t need to learn these lessons and he doesn’t learn from the mistakes. I feel I should be getting paid for this hellish work and if he were my own, and I were wholly responsible, I would be embarrassed.

    I provide 24 care for my stepsons (14 and 15) and I feel guilty that my primary concern is having them grow up to be responsible adults so they can get the hell out of here. I am terrified this one will never leave. He is also horrible with money. UGGGGGGGGGGGG. I don’t know if it will ultimately break up my marriage, but it has helped to stop spending time and energy on him–because as people have stated–there is no reward. I am not speaking of thanks or perfection, but maybe a smile or something. He also won’t accept responsibility for his actions and never shuts up. I have begun to say, “Stop talking, take responsibility for yourself, this is not the time.” When he is nervous, he randomly spews facts about phones and ipods (his current interests) and won’t shut up.

    I will stop now, but I could go on for another 10 pages.

    I ultimately blame my husband.

    1. Hey Ari, thanks for your comment. Of all the posts on my blog, this one generated the most commentary over the last four years. I feel your plight. Your stepson should not get special treatment because he is gay. If he were transgender that would be different. Unfortunately you have hit the adolescent part of his growing up so he will no doubt be horrible throughout this time too. I’m not sure what you can do about your marriage but I would prioritise that over and above your unhappy relationship with your stepson. It seems to me that most of the comments on this blog have issues with husbands not recognising poor behaviour in their children. Perhaps some time away with just the 2 of you and some couples counselling might help? I wish I could help but I am just a person with a similar situation, and luckily my stepson doesn’t live with us full time or I would go nuts! All the best with your situation.

    2. Hi Ari
      I have been married for 8 yrs and have helped my husband raise my 16 yr old SS. His mom is not in the picture at all. I went have had the same thoughts you have about your SS…trust me, I get it. The only thing that you can do is accept him for who he is…annoying and all. This is not a cop out or denial, just the truth. Accepting someone for who they are is true love. I have my own biological sons now and I don’t feel for them what I feel for my SS. It’s natural and normal. I am in no way ok with the way my SS behaves but the teen years were always going to be hell anyway. Just try to accept him and make sure you take a break from the situation whenever possible (I know easier said than done, but just try). Do what you can, yoga, glass of wine now and then, go out with and without your husband, count to 10…whatever it takes. You are not alone, I felt alone for a long time, then I found this blog and I get so much comfort from reading stories like yours. Hang in there, do it for yourself, your marriage, and your kids.

  28. Wow reading this brought me back to my life. Sounds like my step son exactly everyday I just want to move out . I can’t spend one hour without getting frustrated and we have him most if the time he was diagnosed with high functioning autism last fall

  29. I am so relieved I have found other step-moms who are in the same boat as me. I don’t feel so bad now for completely disliking my step-son. Finally I can vent somewhere!!!

    I am married, have a biological daughter who’s 5, a 7 year old SS, and am currently 7 months pregnant. My SS is an aspie who had his meth addict mother abandon him when he was 4 years old. Needless to say, on top of the aspergers he’s got some abandonment issues.

    He’s absolutely obsessed with his father. Up his butt constantly. Uses his clothes as blankets, is only happy if his dad opens his juice box, or if his dad cooks him dinner, will only get out of his dads side of the truck, only happy if his dad helps him with his homework, talks like a baby to his dad to get things, makes smart ass comments about how he likes his dad better, etc. etc. etc. Is it just me or is he too old for this behavior? He’s almost 8.

    I have been a mother to this child for 3 years and I swear he has multiple personalities. One day he’s sweet and seems normal, then the next day he’s rude, impatient, stubborn, pedantic and it’s like his brain is filled with mush…nothing he says or does makes sense. The family constantly walks on eggshells because of his personality/mood waves.

    He makes weird clicking and smacking sounds with his mouth, walks on his toes, had a really high-pitched fake laugh, can’t ride a bike, can’t run (says his legs hurt too much) can’t throw or catch a baseball, never picks up after himself, his room is so filthy it makes me want to vomit just going near it, extremely messy and picky eater, doesn’t understand sarcasm or jokes, has emotional meltdowns, doesn’t like being hugged and being touched “hurts him”, doesn’t like music, completely rude and blunt, refuses to share, bossy, acts superior to adults, and is also extremely effeminate and acts gay etc.

    I feel bad to say that he is just an un-enjoyable child to be around. When he’s around I just cringe and want him to go do something else. I have tried sooooooo hard to love him but it’s just not there. It’s very difficult to bond with a child with aspergers. The way I feel hurts me to the core and I question myself if I’m a bad person for wishing he was not in my life. Since his biological mother is not in his life, we have him full-time and I have to take the place of his real mom. To those of you who only have your aspie step-kid every other weekend….imagine every freaking day of your life. 😦 I love my husband so much and I know that his son is part of the package, so I just deal with it. Sigh.

    1. You have described my situation almost to the smallest detail. My SS was abandoned by his mother at 4 years old, he is now 16. I married his dad when he was 8. We also have our own children now one is 9 months and the other is 2. I felt like raising my SS took years off my life, the stress was/is palpable and it is a feeling no one but you and others in your situation can understand. Everyone looks at you like you are an evil stepmom, but they don’t have to live with the raising someone elses child with aspergers. The one thing my therapist told me that helped me is that you are not his mom and you should not try to replace her. People are not replaceable. His mom is gone. You are there to support your husband and help him in raising his child. Let him do that and you be the support for him. That has helped me tremendously. I hope it helps you. By the way you are not evil, because if you were you wouldn’t feel bad about having negative feelings for your SS.

  30. Hi ladies, the fact that I had to google search and somehow land myself here, probably shows you just how desperate I am for an answer/support/assurance/solution/empathy/sympathy… and how utterly miserable I feel at this point.

    My SS is now 18 years old. His biological mum was a drug addict who left him when he was 2 years old. That was the last he had ever seen her or known her, so in effect, he knows and remembers nothing about her.

    He came into my life at age 9, and a year later, I manage to persuade his dad, my then bf, to bring him to a child psychologist, because I felt that something was not quite right with this boy. At age 10, he was diagnosed as having Aspergers. From the get go, it had been very difficult, so difficult in fact, that I tried a few times to end my relationship with his father – this was before we eventually took the plunge and got married anyway.

    We’ve been married for 7 years now. My husband is the sweetest man I’ve ever met. He loves my daughters fiercely and they adore him and thinks of him as their hero. My daughters lost their biological dad to cancer when they were 4 and 2. The elder girl had very limited memory of him, while the younger had no recollection whatsoever. They were 6 and 4 when my current husband came into my life. They’re now 14 and 12, and love dad to bits, and him them.

    Can’t say the same with the relationship between evil stepmom and stepson though. Everything that has been mentioned above, I have encountered it, so I shall not repeat. Basically, it is a case of every single day, dealing with someone who is intelligent, but have very low EQ, and uses almost zero common sense when it comes to solving everyday problem, someone who has to be told every step of the way what to do and what to say. Someone who has little empathy. I feel like I have given him all my life these past 8 years, and will never see anything in return at the end of the day, apart from defiance, rudeness, and hostility. I am totally heartbroken at this stage, I am crying my heart out while reading everything that has been said here.

    He has recently gotten involved with a girl his age.. gone out together for one month, before she went away to another country to pursue her studies. 2 months now they’ve been in a long distance relationship. So that brings the length of their relationship to a total of 3 months now. I have been even more upset than I’ve ever been since… because:

    1. They whatsapp all the time throughout the day… and I wondered, why does he have so much words of affection for her but zero for his family – his dad, me and his stepsisters.

    2. He is so obsessed with this girl (obsession being an asperger’s trait), that I feel we are nobodys.

    Am I being jealous? Perhaps?

    3. Knowing that he has the mental age of a 12 year old, but of course that girl doesn’t know him enough to know this, I don’t feel he is ready to be in a relationship.

    4. The girl is a very huge influence on him, promising to love him till the very end, and making him promise to do likewise. Puppy love, you may say, but he is not like any normal 18-yr-old, so I feel that he is being brainwashed by her. And this feeds his obsession. Back to no. 2.

    After so many years, I feel love towards him. I love him. I can say honestly that I don’t always like him, and sometimes even hate him for making me feel so much annoyance and irritation towards him, because of how he is. He is such a difficult boy to love, but yet, deep inside I love him. Us 5 make a family unit these past 7-going-on-8 years. We go everywhere together, do everything together. We have no connection with my SS biological mum or her family, at all. So it’s just us. To me, I have three kids. Not two.

    You may say that sometimes I over compensate, and give him better things that I do to my own daughters. I don’t give him lesser compared to my own girls, let’s put it that way. When he gets scolding, they get it too… because I overcompensate. And that’s so unfair for the girls. I hope they do not grow up with resentment in their hearts.

    Now I just feel like whatever I’ve done is being thrown back at my face. With his new gf, I feel like I’ve caught a glimpse of our future. Him with his partner, and us in the sidelines. It’s all so not worth it. Being a stepmom feels like such a thankless job.

    1. Thank you for sharing your story. It’s clear you are very distressed by his treatment of you, and why not? He is, given his condition, incapable of showing you the same consideration you show him. However, I think it’s great he’s in love with a girl. This shows you that he is indeed capable of deep feelings. It’s normal for parents to feel a bit abandoned and cast aside when romance rears its pimply head in your kids. I think he will have his heart broken and that may well be a good thing for him…but from your feelings about his romance it’s clear you care very much that he doesn’t get hurt. You should be congratulated on your efforts, love and care for your step child. Is there any way you can protect yourself emotionally from him? Can you back away a bit and allow things to take their course? Or does this young man need a lot of hands on help? There’s not much I can suggest about his behaviour except that perhaps a behavioural specialist for Aspergers people and their families might help? Does he treat his dad the same way he treats you or are you singled out for special abuse? Anyway, I think you need a holiday with just you and your husband! Take time out to pamper yourself. Take care, Jess

      1. Hi Jess, thank you for taking the time to write back and for giving me advice that I can take away with me. The day I posted the above comment must have been the crux of just how bad I was feeling. Almost 2 weeks have passed and I’m glad to report that things have gotten much better, and that in a huge part, was due to how I chose/choose to do exactly what you’ve suggested – backing away. I no longer ask him about his relationship with this girl, and I no longer monitored or observed. I kept myself busy, and as a matter of fact, yesterday, had thrown the best surprise 18th birthday party for him. I cooked enough to feed 50 people, most of them his college buddies, and he was so thrilled. Halfway through the party, they carried him and dunked him into the pool! It was such a great party.

        He seems milder in his temperament and seems to speak a little more kindly to me. Yes he treats his dad the same way he treats me. Dad loses patience with him very easily, and I try to protect him from his fury when that happens. Maybe I am trying to buy his affection with my actions, but hey.. whatever works right? I will continue to back off, while being present, to maintain peace in this household, and to preserve my sanity. That’s the right thing to do. I can’t change the fact that he has this condition. What I can do is change my expectations and my mindset, right? After so many years, I am still struggling with this, but at least I have come to this realisation, so there’s hope for us. Hugs to you. God bless.

  31. It’s great to find this site as I feel so alone and helpless right now. I am engaged to a wonderful man and we are meant to be getting married in June but due to my 13 year old aspergers stepson to be I am having second thoughts. He stays every weekend, has all the typical aspire traits as well as all the most charming ones of a thirteen year old and I find myself choosing to work rather than be at home with him and I can’t see him ever being able to move out of home and look after himself. I really thought I could deal with it but it’s making me feel like a second class citizen in my own home and I am scared to even think about having a baby in the future and how he would deal with it. Do you think it will get easier or is there something i can do to make it better? I can’t talk to my fiance as he is very defensive when it comes to his son. Thank you

  32. I feel so validated reading all of these posts!!!! I have been married to the man of my dreams for almost two years now and we both bring children to the mix (now with a 9 month old of our own). My stepdaughter is 12 and also an only child who is so enmeshed with her mother that the two are not discernible (she is a disgusting human being for reasons beyond the damage she has caused to her child that I will not go into here). I have been self-flagellating for some time since I have come to the tough realization that I just DO NOT LIKE MY STEPDAUGHTER! I KNOW she has Asperger’s even though she is undiagnosed and I can recognize that SOME of the behavior is linked to the hard wiring while some is learned. When it comes to the learned stuff, both my husband and I correct her in the moment, and as for the rest…I’m still struggling with my expectations. I have found overt attempts on her part to undermine our family and “spy” to her mother; she is, at times, cold and derisive to her step-siblings; she has the same sense of infallibility as is mentioned in the author’s post as well as the same rigidity to change…basically all of the beyond less than desirable traits Jessplainsong mentioned are indicative of the diagnosis. And I feel horrible in saying this, but…SHE’S NOT MY KID AND I DON’T LIKE HER/WANT HER HERE/TRUST HER/etc, etc, etc.

    None of this is enough to make me question my marriage or the future of my relationship, but I find myself truly wishing she would just go away (to which the self-flagellation shall once again commence).

    I will continue to check in with this thread for insight, but any specific advise any of you in a similar situation can give as to how to a) protect yourself emotionally from a child you just cannot trust, b) manage your expectations/just stop giving a crap about how this child exists in your world, and c) reconcile that you just plain feel/treat your own kids differently than his kid (because you get your kids!), would all be greatly appreciated!

    Stay strong all!

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