Let it go?

lovehadleyMay 14, 2009

I am getting frustrated with my DH's parenting (or lack, thereof.)

I love him--and seriously, he IS a loving, involved father. BUT he just seems incapable of following through with anything.

SS's school behavior has really spiraled downwards in the last month or so--NO SURPRISE, given everything that's gone on with his mom.

He has always strugged behaviorally/academically, one of the many reasons my DH really wanted to hold him back and have him do kinder again. BM went ahead and enrolled him in 1st grade, anyway, despite the GAL agreeing that a repeat of kinder would be a positive thing.

Ok, so SS has this color system at school---green is the best, yellow means you got 1-2 warnings, then comes blue, purple, and red. Red is a trip to the principal's office.

SS used to get mostly yellows. The last few weeks, it's been yellows interspersed with several blues and a couple purples.

Yesterday he came home with a red. :(

So when he gets anything worse than a yellow, DH has been taking away priviliges--he will sometimes take away his Wii for a night, or he will lose computer priviliges, tv priviliges, you get the idea.

Yesterday for getting a red he lost everything---Wii, computer, and tv. And honestly--SS could care less. With the weather being so nice, the kids are playing outside most evenings, riding bikes and scooters, playing with the dog in the backyard, etc.

SS announced last night that he didn't care about losing all his priviliges. Dh thought he was just "over-compensating" and "pretending that he didn't care" but I think differently. For real--I don't think he cares!

So anyway, they get home from school and we have dinner and DH proceeds to say "hey, let's all go get ice cream." So we did that, the kids took baths and it was time for bed. Not ONCE did SS even have time to "feel the hurt" of not playing his game or playing webkinz or whatever.

Anyway, so while we are in the car driving to the ice cream place,DH says to SS "You know, you are really lucky I am letting you get a treat like this after getting a red. I'm tempted to not let you get any.....but I will let you this one time."

OMG. IMO, why even say anything at all? All that does (IMO) is send the message to SS that DH will threaten, but won't ever do much of anything.

UGH. It just annoys me.

I feel bad for SS that he has so many issues going on w/his mom but it just seems like NOW is the time, more than ever, to really give him clear boundaries and firmness at our home. Things w/BM might be a mess but it would be so good if DH could be firm and consistent with him HERE. It is my firm belief that when kids act out/misbehave, they are trying to tell us something---and I realy think SS is crying out for consistency and love, and part of THAT includes DH setting boundaries/rules for him. Kids NEED that.

So I tried to broach the subject last night w/DH that maybe taking away priviliges for something as serious as a red isn't working with SS. I suggested maybe an early bedtime, extra chore, etc. And he just blows me off and says "I've got it handled."

WHATEVER. I am just letting the whole thing go, I guess, but it irritates the crap out of me.

I would handle things SO much differently if I were the parent in this case...and it's frustrating b/c it feels like our kids have two separate sets of rules/expectations.

What do you think?

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I think it's just MEN! (sorry guys!)

Turning in homework has been an issue for SD for most of this school year and we've stayed on top of it.. she isn't failing, she gets A's, B's & C's but it's been a fight to get her to do and turn in her work. Since BM filed for custody, saying her grades are mostly D's & F's (which is not true.. she's going off her daily gradebook that changes every time SD turns something in or doesn't turn something in) SD has gotten worse about turning in projects and now she's even getting low grades on her classwork... I mean like 3 out of 20 on her spelling test, etc. It's like she's purposefully failing because her mom told her that if she can prove SD's failing in school (presumably because DH is not 'helping' her) then BM thinks she will gain custody. So, it's been an uphill struggle for the last few weeks.

Well, on Easter we (DH & I) were taking a road trip and passed an amusement park... one he's wanted to go to for a long time and he again mentions he wants to take SD there. So, about a week later I bought season passes and made a hotel reservation for DH's only weekend with SD in April. DH was served with the custody papers two weeks before our trip. At that point, SD had no missing assignments. The Monday before our trip, she was missing three or four assignments... so I told her we are planning to go to this park and if she has any missing assignments, we are NOT going. Well, DH got upset with me for telling her that... because HE wants to go. So, I tell him that SD needs an incentive to turn in her work and hopefully she will want to go bad enough to turn in her missing assignments... but if she does not, we have to be willing to follow through with the consequence, which may include losing the money on the hotel. The season passes are good for a year and we can go at another time when she deserves it. (we live about 90 minutes from the park... so we really don't need a hotel, but I thought it would be more fun to stay near there... like a mini vacation)

Well, two days before the trip she is still missing two assignments and begging her teacher to please hurry up and change the online gradebook to show she turned the other ones in. That night, DH tells me (in private) that we can go ahead and take SD to the amusement park and just make it not fun for her. I ask him what he means and he says "well, if we are at the park and she wants ice cream... we can tell her that if she had turned in her homework, she'd be able to get ice cream but since she didn't we'll tell her she can't have any." I laughed and shook my head in disbelief! Did I marry an idiot?! But, he wanted to go so bad that HE didn't want to lose out... so I told him that if she didn't get her work turned in, I was not going and if HE wants to go take her and 'reward' her, I was not going to be a part of it.

Fortunately, for me, her and him... I still don't know how big of an idiot I married because she got the work done and we all went & had a good time.

(and no, I didn't discuss it with DH before I said we are not going... but I also didn't discuss it with DH before I bought the tickets... it was a surprise & I paid for everything... tickets, parking, hotel, gas & food from MY separate account.. so when I told him that if HE wants to take her, that meant that HE can pay for the gas, hotel & food. I had already bought the tickets/parking)

    Bookmark   May 14, 2009 at 11:22AM
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My dd's school has the same thing. But when she is on yellow even once, we talk about the reasons and try to find solutions. Recently she was continuously going to the bathroom in the middle of class. This gets you on yellow if it happens more than once. We talked about respecting the teachers time, and disruptions, and how she needed to consider her bodily needs earlier (she tends to wait until there is no time and she has to run). We also started implementing the "no getting up" at the dinner table for water or bathroom breaks. Dinner is not so long that a person has to get up every night to go pee in the middle.

Have you tried rewards for a timespan of getting on green? We went to Chuck E Cheese when dd was on green for two weeks straight.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2009 at 1:24PM
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We have tried the rewards for green. First, DH gave him an incentive to get a week (5 straight days) of greens. He said he could get a new webkin if that happened, but so far, SS hasn't been able to do that.

So then DH started giving him small incentives for getting one green---getting to stay up 15 mins extra, getting to pick a special dessert for dinner, among others. He got a few greens here and there over the last few months and seemed pleased with his small treats, but it hasn't been enough to really get him to buckle down.

According to his teacher, it is lots of not listening, talking excessively, and getting out of his chair repeatedly. When he got the red yesterday, it was for lots of not following directions that got him down to a blue--and then I guess he was rolling in the hallway on the way to a specialty class, and would not get up when the teacher AND the aide both asked him to? That knocked him down to purple, and then he apparently got out of his seat during a lesson and then he was on red. Sigh.

I personally think he has ADD or ADHD. The kid seriously cannot sit still! At dinner---it is up, down, up, down. He eats standing up half the time, and DH is forever barking at him to "sit on your bottom, feet forward" but SS just seems physically incapable of doing it. I really think he has some sort of behavioral issue but DH doesn't think so. Another SIGH.

See, that too is where I think DH could improve. If it were me--and my DD--I would say "the next time you get out of your chair, you are finished with your dinner." And see, DH will DO that---well, he will SAY that; and he will make SS leave the table but then 2 mins later he will call him back for "one more chance." AUUUGHHHHH!

    Bookmark   May 14, 2009 at 1:57PM
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I think many young boys have difficulty sitting still in class. Its a shame, with economic issues, schools cutting back on gym, arts, music and "move around" activities. Whether he has ADD or not, has he been evaluated by someone who can at a minimum suggest coping skills for him. SS not only has to want to do better, he needs someone to coach him how to do better. I would pay some heed to what school says re retention, but I am also concerned that some schools use retention as a catch all problem solver.

Good lcuk.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2009 at 2:12PM
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He sees the school counselor once a week and it seems like she has been pretty good. She emailed DH a very thorough letter about things she was working on with SS--one of them was how it can be hard to focus on school when there are upsetting things at home; she hs been reiterating to him that he needs to let the grown-ups handle the grown-up problems and that his job is to be a kid, learn and play at school, etc.

I think he would greatly benefit from some sort of team sport. He really didn't want to play t-ball this year, but I think DH is going to gently push him into a week long t-ball camp, to give it a try. He is also signed up for a 2 week day camp in July that I think he will LOVE--I've known families that have sent their kids there and they RAVE about it. It's 9-3 and there are 5 AWESOME field trips planned. He does NOT want to do this at all.

It's hard because some kids are just more naturally shy, so neither DH nor I want to push SS too hard. BUT---we want him to at least have SOME activities. He has not done anything all year long---and what's worse, he won't go to friend's houses, is afraid to spend the night at his grandparents' house, etc.

There is nothing wrong with being shy (I was fairly shy as a child) but SS is at such an extreme that it seems like it is really crippling him socially. :(

It is tricky for me because I am so used to my DD, who is the opposite of SS. She is almost TOO confident at times, thinks she is a mini-adult; she can be too social, and I have to restrict how many activities she does. She is already doing swim team and softball this summer, and a week-long art camp, and I had to say NO MORE when she pushed to do a day camp at her school. It is hard to say which comes first, though. Is she confident because she does all these things? Or does she want to do all these things BECAUSE she is confident?

A lot is probably the differences between a boy and a girl; then that difference is just exacerbated by the issues SS faces with his mom's drinking, moving between two homes, etc. :(

DH and I both want him to have chances to be more independant and gain some confidence. I think a lack of self confidence is the root of his problems at school. Academically, he struggles, and I think it is just a viscious cycle: he doesn't really understand a lot of what's being taught, so he acts out in frustration/to get attention; then he misses key instruction because he's distracted and he understands even less and then he gets THAT much more frustrated. He is always saying "he's terrible at school" and that "no one likes him at school" etc. :(

I feel pained for my DH because it cannot be easy to see your child struggle. I am hoping against hope that this new district will agree to let him repeat 1st grade. He should have repeated kindergarten last year. In July, he will be evaluated in our district and DH is going to push, push, push for him to do 1st again. SS is at the younger end of his class, birthday wise, and everyone has always commented on how young he is. His teacher this year described him as a young kindergartener socially/behaviorally.

I think the gift of TIME for him would be worth so much.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2009 at 2:33PM
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I can't imagine holding him back would hurt -- but it may not help. In any event, sounds like he could benefit from a change of peer group and a second chance. Dad should discuss with school, if he beleives it, that the is the best path to minimize special services, which can get really expensive to school.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2009 at 3:05PM
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Definitely talk with school/teachers. As I've said it before, as a husband of a teacher, I know most teachers will go out of their way to help a parent who asks, and is showing an interest and trying to be a positive influence in their kids' lives.

As for it being a 'men' thing, I respectfully disagree. Whilst men may at times be over-represented in the inconsistency stakes, they are often coming at it from being the 'outsider' parent, if they're not the primary caregiver. My ex would often contradict or countermand my decisions/directions that as a parent were mine to make. I was always careful to support her and present a united front, but she would not afford me the same courtesy. As a disenfranchised parent my kids lost respect for me, which became a vicious circle. It was not for many years that my ex discovered that it was not a wise move, since our youngest shows little respect or inclination to help out, or even get a part-time job, and my eldest has basically said she never wants to live 'at home' with mum and sister again.

If at all possible, and perhaps through a third party - which you may be able to insist on in the poster's instance where there's a custody issue - go to a family therapist, with and without the kids, where these issues can be discussed. If there's a custody issue, the therapist's observations may be quite helpful and revealing.

I had to admit I took a little private childish pleasure in the family therapist's coming down for the most part on my side, as to how things had been managed. I was careful to keep it to myself. My ex's reaction? "I didn't think much of THEM" (Therapist)

Do consider the possible medical issues such as add, but the situation at home/mum's home will have a lot to do with it. Therapy for all would probably be a good idea anyway, even if bm doesn't participate.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2009 at 3:20PM
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pjb999, I agree... I shouldn't have said it's a 'man' thing. It just seems that I can relate a lot with lovehadley in the BM's we have to deal with and the way our husband's deal (or don't deal) with some issues. My dad was the responsible parent and my mom was not, so I know it has nothing to do with gender. (and as between my DH and his ex.. he is the responsible one, but still does things even when he KNOWS he shouldn't but maybe feels guilty for not having enough 'fun' with SD when she's here.. He's the 'mean' parent that makes her do her work, chores & responsible stuff)

I thought the problem in the post was OP's frustration at her husband, not her stepson's problems at school. (but rather the way her DH was handling them)

I would suggest they could see a counselor or take a parenting class together so they are on the same page with being a united front with both kids. A cooperative parenting class would also touch on how to deal with a difficult ex, even if the ex refuses to get involved in being cooperative.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2009 at 1:43AM
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