“My fiancee's son is very destructive.”
Dear Annie,I am getting ready to marry. We have been together for 3 years now, and have lived together for 2. She has 2 children. Her 14 year old daughter has a loud mouth, not unnatural for her age. Her 17 year old son however is very destructive. Like today, I go outside to find a light bulb smashed against the car I just bought last weekend, along with a door handle broken and a foot size dent in the quarter panel. In the house I discovered two of my speakers were broken... It's like this all the time. We would ground him, but that just means he's here when were not to break more stuff. What should I do?
Congratulations on your upcoming marriage. I'm sure you would agree that there are definitely some family issues that need to be addressed in a more effective way than 'grounding'.
Obviously this kind of destructive behavior isn't healthy or acceptable. Aside from the frustration, expense, and inconvenience of broken "stuff" it's clear to me that your soon-to-be step-son needs professional help. It would be interesting to find out if this kind of behavior was the norm with him before you came into the picture. Is he like this at school? Does he have trouble making and keeping friends? Has he had brushes with the law? Or is his anger solely directed at you and your possessions? In any case, it sounds like he needs to learn healthier ways to express his feelings.
I couldn't help but notice in your short email a certain lack of tenderness towards your fiancee's children. The only thing you say about her daughter is that she has a "loud mouth" and the only thing you say about her son is that he's "very destructive."
What you say may be true, but surely there is more to each of these children than what you've described. And that you don't acknowledge (or don't seem to be aware) of any other, more positive aspects of their personalities might be contributing to the hostility.
The boy's mother needs to step up and take charge here. Surely she can see how troubled he is. As his mother, she (not you) needs to do whatever it takes to help him get some help. My suggestion would be to start with the school counselor. Mom should talk with the counselor and explain what's been happening at home. A meeting with Mom, the son, and the counselor (or a family therapist) would be a good place to start. From there it can be decided when to bring you and the daughter into a full family therapy session -- because while the son may be the only one acting out in this way, the whole family has a problem.
I'd strongly suggest that you take this advice to heart and share it with your fiancee. The problems you've described are already impacting your relationship as a couple and as a family. They're not going to disappear after the wedding, in fact, if they're not dealt with compassionately and effectively, you're looking at lots more problems down the road.
I hope this helps.