My 12 yr. old stepson is spoiled rotten by his father. Me and his mother (who has primary custody) rarely get him because his father allows him to choose which home he wants to stay at. My wife is very passive and has been manipulated by her EX for the last 10 yrs., we have been married for a little over two years now. His father treats him as an equal to him and lets him talk to him and others like the boy is in charge, recently we had the boy with us and because we would not take him to a store to buy something he threatened to kill himself by tying a rope around his neck, screaming at his mother that he hated her. When my wife told this to his father, the father replied he doesn't do that over here so maybe he shouldn't be with you. This kid has a new cell phone everytime a new model comes out, 3 very expensive paint ball guns have been bought for him within the last 2 months and now he doesn't even play paintball, when he wants something his father buys it for him no matter what his attitude. He father always says I buy it for him because my father couldn't buy these things for me when I was young. His father allows him to go hunting in the backyard with his 13yr old cousin, no adults, using shotguns and 22 rifles. Everytime we try and get him to come home he and his father raise emortal hell. His father is an EX druggy and now he is addicted to Church and always says my boys a christian he knows wrong from right and he would never shoot himself blah blah blah. I am very concerned for this childs well being as well as my wifes and mine, he has threatened to hit my wife and calls her the same names his father does. We plan on going back to court to have a parenting plan put in place, is this enough and how do we get through to the father that his child is depressed. He lies about everything, trying to make himself look bigger than what he is, I call this false pride. It has gotten so bad that I engaged the father by myself in a non threatening way to discuss these issues, he just hung his head down and stated he knows I've heard him lie also and it will change I promise, my wife explained that she has had this talk with him for the past 4 years and nothing ever changes but it gets worse. I believe in tough love and for the first year of our marriage the boy and I had developed a relationship he knew that I didn't play the same games his father did and I would not tollerate being talked to the way his father allowed it. Now the father has bought him so many things that he never wants to be with us unless he is manipulating his mother into helping (doing) his homework for him, she has stopped that and now sees that all he is doing is using her. I love my wife and care deeply about this young boys life and all I see is failure if he doesn't get help.
This is a very sad situation. The boy is obviously angry, depressed, and insecure -- but no wonder after being shuffled back and forth and hearing parents bad mouth each other. What a mess.
You have a few issues here:
1) How badly does your passive wife want a relationship? If not bad enough to fight for it, then this is probably how life will continue and as a stepdad you have no power. She already has the legal right to see him more.
2) You guys obviously need time with the boy alone to improve your relationship, but will your marriage suffer if you push your wife? Is THAT worth is? Will she see you as any less bully than her ex?
3) At 12, the boy is becoming old enough to have a more mature and separate relationship with you guys, apart from the influence of his dad... but it will take time. Your wife needs couseling for her own push-over passive problems, and she (or both of you) and the boy need group couseling. I would approach the boy and first admit what a negative situation you adults have put him in (also speaking on behalf of his in-denial dad). Affirm that you understand why he acts out. Apologize for his crappy life, then offer to make things better in the future with group counseling. (FYI, your health insurance will often offer a few free sessions of psych couseling.)
All kids just want affirmation and love. Hopefully he can put his anger aside and accept your invitation. If not, wait a while, and try again. At some point, he'll be mature enough to want that solid relationship with his mom.
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