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How do I seperate my 10 year old stepson from his 6 year old brother?

7 answers
My 10 year old stepson has attached an unhealthy attachment to his 6 year old brother. My husband wouldn't have done anything about it had I not come along. He isn't the most observant parent. Anyhow I suggested that when they go to his parents house on Friday nights that we only send the 6 year old. He has no attachment to the 10 year that would stop him from going or enjoying his time away. However the 10 year old is pouting and worried that he will have to stay at home without his brother. He told me the other day when the issue was brought up that he wasn't scared but today on our walk home from school he said that I was right and that he didn't want to stay without the 6 year old. I would never send one or the other to their mothers house alone because they need each other there. She doesn't pay much attention to them, but my in-laws are wonderful with them and I thought that would be a good place to start. My mother-in-law informed my husband that she didn't think it was a good idea and to be honest it makes me mad that she doesn't take his mental health more seriously. Our youngest is going to start playing sport and has an outgoing personality and makes friends easily. My biggest fear for our 10 year old is that when the younger one makes friends and wants to do thing without him he will retaliate and be mean. He has done that before when he was caught doing things he wasn't allowed. He thought it was his brother fault and took it out on him. At the moment that is my least concern. Separating them is my bigger concern. I do have an 8 year old daughter and they all get along fine and I am pregnant so I want to try and do something about this before the baby is born and they get even less attention from us. How do I separate them?

answers (7)

It sounds as though your 10-year-old stepson has trouble making friends on his own, so he's relying on his younger brother too much.  The fact that they're close isn't a bad thing at all - in fact, it's fantastic.  But the fact that he's having trouble making friends is.  What does he enjoy doing?  What are his favorite sports?  Maybe sign him up for classes in those activities where the 6-year-old is specifically excluded (because of age, because of other activities, because of disinterest - reason doesn't matter).  Once you get the older son doing something with his peers, he might find it easier to be without the crutch his brother represents, and in trun be willing to do more without him. Good luck!
I agree. I don't think it's too much of a problem that they want to stay together, especially since something happened in their lives that took away their mom. Maybe your 10 year old has had a much harder time adjusting to everything and has become more attached to his brother. Instead of trying to separate them, which might only make his emotional problem worse, try taking him to therapist to figure out exactly what's going on with him. And then, get him into his own interests where he can start to make some friends his own age.
Thanks for the replies, but I guess I should have been more specific. Their mom is alive and still in their lives. However my 10 year old is not my husbands biological child and he was recently told that by his mothers family. Probably out of meanness. As it happens my daughter and he are 2nd cousins and look alike, which was a problem for our 10 Year old because my husband and 6 year old have very dark complexions and my daughter and 10 year old are fair skined with blonde hair. I think they have given him a complex and abandenment issues, but my husband said he has always been this way because their mom would just leave them home and go party. He also pees the bed frequently and doesnt like to tell. I'm sure he's embarrassed because of his age and his brother doesn't pee the bed. He has several issues that we need to do something about but this seems to be the simpliest one. I don't have a connection with him that I would like to have or that I have with our 6 year old, and I think if we spent time with him without the other two children that may change.My 10 yr old has friends of his own and will play with them. It's things like going to bed, and staying with grandparents that he won't do because he's afraid...I agree that the bond shouldn't be broken but with the age difference his attachment is unhealthy because he's the only one who has it. My 6 year old can and wants to do without him but my 10 year old sneaks and talks him out of doing those things. The divorce was hard on Jacob (10) and Marshall just wrote it off (6). They have very different personalities and I see issues in the near future when we put Marshall in sports and Jacob realizes that Marshall doesn't need him or want him there all the time. We plan on putting Jacob in sports that Marshall can't play with him for serveral reasons but Marhsall will still be there, therefore they won't actually be seperated. I think my biggest problem is that no one else but me and my family want to acknowledge that he has issues. My husband and his family want to ignore things that are easy to see and really big problems.
Yeah, specifics tend to help get a more accurate response.  :) If I'm reading this right, Marshall and Jacob are not biological siblings?  In the small picture, I don't think that matters, since they've been living as siblings.  They see themselves as brothers, no matter what the bloodlines say.  As long as they call themselves brothers, and you call them brothers, they're brothers. For the big picture, yes, it matters, and if you do know who Jacob's biological father is (and please, refer to that person as his biological dad, and not his "real" dad; his "real" dad is the one who raised him, and anyone who lives in mixed families is going to take serious umbridge at that term anyway), I think it would be good to foster some kind of relationship with that person, if they're willing.  If nothing else, Jacob may need some assurance from your husband that he's seen as his son, and not some interloper.  And again, perhaps talking to a third party (i.e., therapist or trusted teacher) would help. Talk to your husband about Jacob.  It's easy for him to stick his head in the sand and pretend nothing's wrong.  It's possible that he sees the problems, but doesn't want to acknowledge them because he may feel guilty for his role in them (however small or inconsequential, particularly if he did nothing to stop the bio mom's treatment of the boys). If he knows that you just want to help the boys, that you're not being judgemental of anything that happened previously, he may be more willing to find a solution with you. The fact that you DO notice something amiss and want to do something about it is commendable.  The problem is what you can do about it.  For the bed-wetting - does Jacob admit to the wetting?  Don't judge or berate him for it (it's not like he's doing it on purpose).  Get him to help strip the sheets and wash them.  Not as punishment, but because he's ten and it's a very easy thing to do, and he'll feel good about helping out.  Talk to his pediatrician to see if there's a medical issue afoot and clear that up.  The ped might have some suggestions for how to solve the problem as well, and that will go a long way towards boosting Jacob's self-esteem. You're right that spending time alone with Jacob will help.  Think small picture as well as large - even as much as getting Jacob to help you with the chores around the house, five or ten minutes at a time throughout the day.  Hey, if you trust HIM to wash the dishes, but not Marshall who is six and might drop and break them, that goes a long way.  Every little helps. Good luck!
I'd try to have an afternoon out, just you and him to help with bonding. The closer he gets with you, the possibility he will ease up on needing his brother. But he will always need his brother, because maybe he fears him leaving like his mother did. You two bonding should help with that a bit. And always be open and honest with him. He will appreciate that even if he doesn't show it.
Your older son definitely needs some therapy to help him work out his emotional issues. Because he is older it is completely understandable that the divorce was harder on him and it likely caused a lot of the emotional issues. While you can speculate on the nature of his problems only a professional can truly identify them and can figure out how he needs to work through them. He clearly has some serious issues and without the guidance of a trained therapist things may get worse.
It sounds like he could benefit from seeing a therapist. I don't necessarily agree that separating them is a good idea. It sounds like they've both been through some traumatic times that have understandably affected the older boy more.

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