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HIV+ and living with teenager with behavioral problems
Mar 20, 2006

I am 52 years old GWM and have been HIV+ for over 15 years. I have been with my partner for over 10 years. He is 52 also and HIV-. Over a year and a half ago my partner brought his 17 year old son to live with us. The son been living with his mother but had run away from home. The mother had warned my partner about their son's behavioral problems, but he dismissed the warning as being mental problems that his ex-wife has. However, my partner's son is on his way to turning 20 years old and the behavioral problems have become almost unbearable for me. The son dropped out of school and is content to work at a small part-time job making 6.50 an hour. He rarely does any chores around the house. It usually ends up in a fight between my partner and me just to get his to do his chores, which is usually after more than a week of being told to do them. He has been caught in too many lies to even keep count anymore. He has brought all of his buddies into our house when we were not home, even though the son has been told time after time not to do so. His son has been physically and verbally abusive to me. He has brought his girlfriend into our house and had sex with her, right under my face, and all my partner had to say was for me not to confront him because son might get violent. My partner always has an excuse for his son's behavior and says that it because of his ex-wife bring the son up the way she did. My partner shared custody of the son, but the ex-wife moved over 700 miles away and would let my partner have only limited visitation. So, now my partner thinks he has to be overly passive with his son to make up for the almost 10 years he did not get to spend with him. My partner has a problem with setting any rules and consequences with his son. With the problems we have had with the son, my partner could not even name one time he had ever given his son a consequence for his behavior in a year and a half. I have had a mental health therapist for many years to help me with depression and panic attacks. She has given me sound advice and has even sent home material and opinions for my partner to read. However, because my partner can not see my therapist because he is not a veteran and the therapist does not do couples counseling, he has called her an unprofessional bitch that doesn't know what she's talking about because she hasn't listened to him. He has read one article that says that emotions can be heightened by AIDS and that I'm over reacting. Is it over reacting when you have the police come to your home asking about your partner's son being involved in drugs? After a year and a half, my partner has finally started getting help from a therapist within the last week. This therapist is through an assistance program from his work. My partner has been informed that he should attend a management empowerment class to help him cope with his parenting skills and living with someone who is HIV+. My question is ... how can a management empowerment class help in a situation such as ours? Am I waisting my time trying to salvage this relationship of 10 years or is it going to continually get worse? My partner has stated that is his son has to leave our home, then he is going with him because he has an obligation to him. We may end up losing our home because our landlord does not want his son living in the house unless we pay a lot higher rent. This is because the son and his friends have damaged things on the property. I am having a very hard time with my partner's rational with his son's behavior and his unwillingness to set any boundaries with him. Our friends have sort of isolated themselves away from the whole situation and my partner thinks they have abandoned him and were never really "true" friends. The real truth is they don't like seeing me have to endure the stress that the son's behavior and my partner's attitude has put me under. My partner has gone as far as to tell a friend to mind his own business, and then blamed him for not being a friend when he stopped coming around as often. I see our friends quite often at business meetings and other functions. They do not have a problem with the way I feel about this whole situation and support me in any way they can. Am I insane to try a fight for a relationship with a person that I love with all my heart? Or, am I being nieve to think that this situation will ever change?

Response from Dr. Horwath

You are certainly not "overreacting" or being too emotional about this situation. You are completely correct to want to have a home free from the threat of violence and free from people who destroy your and your landlord's property. Whatever the reason that the son acts the way he does, a 19 year old boy may be immature, but he is responsible for his actions, and should be held accountable for them. It is your partner's responsibility to set some limits on his son, including consequences for his destructive and threatening behaviors. If your partner is unwilling to do so, then he is doing damage to his son, himself, and his relationship with you.

Although it is a good sign that he is seeking help now, the process may take some time, and it sounds like the situation is already quite out of control. I don't think that you are wasting your time trying to salvage the relationship, but continuing to remain under the same roof will only further damage your relationship in my view.

Perhaps you should have a talk with your partner about what is needed to salvage the situation. A period of separation may actually save this already extremely strained relationship. This is a very complicated and serious problem and you are faced with some difficult decisions. I hope that you can work things out.



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