“My husband won’t discipline his son”

I am beyond frustrated with my husband and my stepson. My stepson, DJ, is 16, and ever since he came to live with us, he has caused nothing but drama. He uses drugs and because of his drug use, he was kicked out of the previous school he attended. He’s now attending school here and he’s still using. He has stolen from us to buy his drugs. His dad and I have even caught him in the act of doing the drugs.

My frustration is that my husband chooses to bury his head in the sand. He doesn’t do anything to my stepson. Meanwhile, when I tried to enforce some discipline, I become the evil stepmother. I am so angry about all of this. My husband and I have three kids together, and with them, he is strict. Meanwhile, he lets my stepson get away with darn near everything. When I called him out on this, his reasoning was, “It’s different. Our kids have been around me longer than than DJ, so I expect more out of them.”

To further explain, my husband had been having an ongoing custody battle for years with DJ’s mom because she never allowed him to see DJ. It was only after DJ became older and started getting into trouble that she practically gave him to us. Since then, she has been no help. When I tell her about DJ’s drug use, she says, “Well, let his dad take care of it.” His dad isn’t and it’s getting worse. We lock our things up now; something we never had to do before DJ got here.

I want to get him help but since I am only his stepmother, no one really listens to me. My husband tells me to stay out of it because I can be “too hard on DJ” and that I “don’t know what his life has been like, etc.” When I do stay out of it, DJ gets into trouble again and my husband comes running to me to fix it. What should I do?

One thought on ““My husband won’t discipline his son”

  1. Maryanna says:

    I think you need to suggest counseling at least which would hopefully also lead to rehab of some sort. If his drug use has escalated to the point of him stealing from family members, I’d say he most definitely needs some kind of professional help.

    Maybe even do some research online yourself to find a few places near you that accept his insurance, etc.. and go from there. Give his dad some options rather than just telling him he needs to handle it. He is probably frustrated and blindsided by all of this, and dealing with the contrast of longing to have him in his life for so long and suddenly getting much more than he anticipated once it did happen. No doubt he wants to have a solid relationship with his son, and also has an intense need to make up for lost time. He doesn’t want to lose him now that he does have him, so he’s more apt to let him get by with things. In a way he’s right and I see where he is coming from when he says it’s different with him than your other children. He’s really just now getting to know DJ and vice versa, on top of everything else going on. That in itself is a strain on any situation.

    Your husband may feel like if he’s too hard on him, he’ll push him away and then he won’t be able to do anything to help him. Teenage boys have a lot of angst in general even in the most normal and positive environment, but throw in divorced parents, lengthy custody battle, step parents, half siblings, and a sudden uprooting to a completely different house & atmosphere, & you’re gonna have some issues out of him. Granted none of these factors were intentional attempts at hurting him, they’re just a part of life these days.. but people deal with things differently.

    Unfortunately, he sought detachment with drug use as his coping mechanism for dealing with everything.. I’m sure it was honest enough at first, he just wanted to numb the pain he was feeling… but it only took that one first time, & once it got out of control he no longer had a correct reading on what was right or wrong, he just wanted the pain to stay gone. His moral compass was replaced with a money radar, things he could take or use to get money to fund his habit. By stealing from those he was rebelling against in the first place, in his mind it was like a bonus or a bit of revenge.

    DJ is obviously broken inside. It will take more than just strict discipline to help this kid. He needs personal one on one counseling, he needs family counciling, even with his mom and you guys all involved when the time is right, and he needs drug rehab. Not just rehab alone, because he needs to address the issues he’s been dealing with in order for it to work in a more long term way. Try not to take anything personally in this situation. You didn’t create it, but you are in it. Your husband has never been here before either and probably feels helpless, so just try to be his help. If DJ refuses everything he needs to do to get straightneed out, his last resort will be to learn his lessons the hard way, and could mean he’ll just have to hit bottom before he accepts any help.

    No matter what, I hope everything works out for your family, especially DJ.

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