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TherapistMarryAnn, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5823
Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
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My boyfriend and his twelve-year old son are living with me.

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My boyfriend and his twelve-year old son are living with me. My boyfriend's son within the last year has been in trouble at least six times at middle school for bullying and cyber-bullying. He was also disciplined at middle school for hurting a child (verbally and physically) on the school bus. He has no friends to speak of and used to go to the YMCA for after school activites but shows no interest in having friends or being alone and never speaks of having friends. He is has an obsession with Lady GaGa. I have a grandson the same age and he wants to have nothing to do with him. My friend's boys (who are going through some issues themselves) don't want to play with him -- they say he's mean. My boyfriend's son always has to be the center of attention and displays confidence in himself. I also noticed my pets do not want to be in the same room with him when they are home with him alone -- he has admitted to beating and controling them. I cannot trust him to be alone with them (3 dogs and 3 cats). He can look at you one minute and tell you "You make me sick," the next, then told to go to his room and within minutes come to you and give you a hug and tell you he is sorry. He has no consideration for a person's personal space and when he is adamant about getting attention he doesn't take no for an answer. When I am in the kitchen cooking, he comes to me for attention (a hug or a kiss) -- then hangs around within a foot of me. I tell him to leave or that he is invading my space and he just gets closer. He pesters and bothers people. He also says inappropriate things and when told they are inappropriate he either gets sullen or says them more. We have no internet in our home because when he was 10 he was visiting live web cam of gay porn. He had his Ipod taken away because he put the schoolmate's house on Facebook and was calling him names. He is not allowed to use my phone because he was calling the schoolmate's house numerous times and hanging up. He is an intelligent, witty, charming child and gets straight A's in all classes. He is scheduled to see a psychologist in June. I don't trust this boy and am wondering how to deal with this child. I have raised 4 successful children on my own and they are grown. His mother tells him he doesn't need counseling. She is, in my opinion, a bully and is very domineering and opinionated.

The mother is married and has two other children living with her:  an 17-18 year-old teenager (graduating this year) and a five-year old son.  The mother called my boyfriend and told him the boy threatened her younger child, said he was going to kill him.  She said the boy must go to live with the father because she could not handle him.  She says he is disrespectful to her and shouts and screams back at her.

Hi, I'd like to help you with your question.

Your boyfriend's son sounds like he may have some antisocial personality disorder traits. The usual symptoms include hurting and/or animals, bedwetting, and fire setting. It starts off as a conduct disorder in childhood and usually peaks at late adolescence or early adulthood. He could also have oppositional defiant disorder as well. This at least needs to be ruled out.

The child with conduct disorder is often described as witty, charming, he/she lies and steals, manipulates others, does not respect other people's feelings, and does not show guilt or remorse. Since your boyfriend's son seems to show some remorse, he may only have traits of this disorder.

There is no known cause of anti social personalty disorder/conduct disorder, but it is thought that childhood abuse or neglect, genetic factors or parents who are alcoholic can contribute to the cause.

Treatment is therapy, but it is difficult (but not impossible) since the person with the disorder does not want treatment. It is good that your boyfriend has his son starting treatment soon. It may have a good effect the earlier it is started.

Usually, the best advice in dealing with someone with these types of symptoms is to stay away from them as much as possible. But since this child lives with you that is difficult. You may want to consider asking your boyfriend to move out with his son temporarily until he has a chance to start therapy and see what the therapist says. Or, you can try to protect yourself the best you can by keeping a very close eye on your boyfriend's son. Don't let pets or children be alone with him. Lock up your valuables and warn others to come to you or your boyfriend with anything they see or hear the child doing that concerns them. Also, participate in the therapy by expressing your concerns to the counselor and asking for help in coping with the situation.

Here are some resources to help you as well:

High Risk: Children Without A Conscience by Ken Magid

The Challenging Child: Understanding, Raising, and Enjoying the Five "Difficult" Types of Children by Stanley I. Greenspan and Jacqueline Salmon

The Defiant Child: A Parent's Guide to Oppositional Defiant Disorder - Paperback by Douglas Riley

You can find these books on or your local library may have them for you.

I hope this helps,


Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Kate, why is the best advice in dealing with someone with these types of symptoms is to stay away from them as much as possible? Since the child needs help and until he and his father can move out, how do I handle him? Would you consider him dangerous even at so young an age?

I would say he probably is not dangerous. At his age, strict discipline would be the best option to deal with his conduct. It is hard and you need to be consistent, but it can be done. By the age of 14, it is much more difficult because of maturity. The issue for you is going to be whether or not he will listen to you since you are not his biological parent. You can set rules for him about your household though and enforce those strictly. His father should also support you in setting and enforcing other rules for him.

The best advice is to stay away if you can, but given that this is someone who is in your home and you are partially responsible for him, then that is not appropriate for you. It is just the general advice given if it is possible.


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