Self-protective or selfish. I'm having trouble deciding which am I.

PreciousChild

MyPTSD Pro
I feel like I'm being a bad human being. I cannot warm up to my boyfriend's son who is 17. His mom is kind of a wreck, so I try to be sympathetic. But there has been a few incidents that have left a mark on our relationship - we're very different people in general, but he also takes money from my wallet without asking (he does that to his parents too), he's tried to ditch me on a road trip, he ignores me, has tried to get his friends to make fun of my special needs son (they uncomfortably declined), etc. I don't want to complain too much. I'm not looking for sympathy. I wanted to know if people on here thought that these incidents justified my feeling that I am not too keen on going out of the way for him. I'm inclined to use the "disengaging" strategy of step parenting which believes that a non-bio parent shouldn't keep expending energy on someone who will neither benefit, nor appreciate the effort. Or is it my cptsd, in which case maybe my focus in therapy should be to become a better surrogate for his mom.

I struggle a lot with honoring my needs and self-protection, so I'm thinking maybe I need to do more of that. But I cptsd can also make us quite self-centered and unable to take perspective. I'm wondering which am I. This is affecting my relationship with my boyfriend. He would be a lot happier if I would be more accepting and keep trying to engage his son until he can come around since he is the child and I am the adult.
 

Roland

Confident
This isn't selfishness, it's you wanting and needing a basic right to boundaries. It's hard to be a step parent, but just because some family culture lacks boundaries doesn't mean you shouldn't or can't establish any. But it'll be hard for the 17 year old because he's used to that and not used to you. But he's almost an adult, he can learn. It'd be helpful too if you could try to connect with him in other ways, if there's a hobby he likes that you could talk with him about or something you could do with him, that will help build a relationship with him to better allow mutual respect and boundaries.
 

arfie

MyPTSD Pro
i like to think self-care and compassion for others can and should be part of a single package. healthy boundaries are a critical part of both self-care and healthy relationship. taking money from my wallet without permission? boundary time! ! !

then we get to the challenges of parenting teenagers. . . i leaned heavily within my alanon support network to survive those challenging years. support needed, especially for those of us who are surviving cptsd while attempting to rise to the parenting challenge.

steadying support while you find your way through.
 

PreciousChild

MyPTSD Pro
Thanks @Roland and @arfie. Those are grounded perspectives and good advice.

But he's almost an adult, he can learn.
I feel like 17 is old enough to know right and wrong. His therapist told his mom and dad, that they needed to crack down and enforce boundaries, so they definitely need to teach it to him, and he needs to learn.

if there's a hobby he likes that you could talk with him about or something you could do with him,
I'm afraid that things are so strained that I can't even get to that point, imo. It wasn't always like that, but if I ask him a direct question, he sometimes just flat out ignores me. His dad tries to encourage him to talk to me, but that doesn't work.

healthy boundaries are a critical part of both self-care and healthy relationship. taking money from my wallet without permission? boundary time! ! !
The problem is that I can sometimes have trouble determining my boundaries - sometimes it feels like I'm actually harming the other because I am depriving something they want or need. In this case, a child/teen is involved, so I feel very strongly that his needs are more primary and therefore I feel guilty in not meeting them, including his need to get rid of me. it's cognitive dissonance. I met my parents' needs to stay safe. But now if I succeeded in meeting the teen's needs, I would throw myself in a trash can. So I just feel frozen half the time, which my bf interprets as being mad all the time.
 

arfie

MyPTSD Pro
sometimes it feels like I'm actually harming the other because I am depriving something they want or need. In this case, a child/teen is involved, so I feel very strongly that his needs are more primary and therefore I feel guilty in not meeting them

gentle empathy on this feeling. equally, it often feels like i'm harming others by giving them what they think they want or need. every time feels like a roll of the proverbial dice, especially when guiding children. i take my best guess and pray it works. my own feelings and instincts are the most readily available info i have to work with. trusting them to guide me is NOT selfish.
 

Friday

Moderator
There are a LOT of people that I don’t connect with, on any level, that I still owe a duty of care to.

I think it’s especially difficult as a parent, with kids you love (at a minimum) or both love and like (such a gift)… to transfer that duty of care onto a kid you don’t love, or even actively dislike.

Taking the step back, though? Is kinda priceless. Because it allows for actively encouraging the people in his life who DO love him to go that extra mile for him… and a thousand other things. Including things on your own square. Things that you would do for a stranger without a second thought.
 
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