This is new to me....

iowagirl55November 13, 2008

I need some advice on how to handle my new husband when he called my 17-year old son a loser. He says he was just joking but I am very angry with him and my son is extremely hurt and angry also. I am extremely protective of my son after losing my 19 year old daughter to murder 5 years ago. My son and I are very close. Thanks!

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I'm sorry to hear about your daughter. I cannot imagine what that must be like. Have you and your son told him how you feel about his comment?

    Bookmark   November 13, 2008 at 3:09PM
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Yes, I have talked to him and he told me all he can say is he is sorry and that is all he can do. I can't get rid of the anger I feel towards him though.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2008 at 3:13PM
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So HAS he apologized?
Or has he just said that's all he can do -- as if saying that is all it takes?

Hopefully, you know enough about your husband to know if this is likely to be an isolated incedent.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2008 at 3:59PM
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I am so sorry for the loss of your daughter. Maybe some of the anger you feel over the name calling is bringing up the anger you feel over the murder of your little girl. the protectiveness you feel for your son is going to be strong because of the horrible loss you've suffered. Your husband needs to sit with your son and soothe his hurt feelings.(and yours) You both need to hugged, I wish I could be there to give you one.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2008 at 4:16PM
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cindy pond,

Thank you so much for your thoughtful response. You are truly a warm and compassionate person and I don't even know you. I felt the understanding and concern right through your email. And thank you for the advice. I will try to talk to my husband tonight and see if he is willing to talk with my son and myself. We really never have sat down and really had a heart to heart talk when these issues come up and I think it is really building up in myself and my son.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2008 at 4:45PM
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What was your DH's reason for insulting your son? How long have your DH and your DS known each other? Do they get along in general? If you are having a hard time letting go of your anger, do you think that that is related to other, on-going issues between you, or just a one-time case of poor judgment on your DH's part?

I am terribly sorry for the loss of your beautiful daughter. My heart goes out to you.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2008 at 6:10PM
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I am so very sorry iowagirl about your daughter.

Your DH has no rights to call your son a loser, absolutelly no rights. Is your's son father in a picture? i wonder what happens if your son complains to dad?

if DH called him a loser on one occassion accidentally, and then apologized then it might be OK, but if it is ongoing? It needs to stop immdiatelly.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2008 at 6:46PM
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Yes, my sons father is very much in the picture. I am pretty sure he will tell his dad. Then I will have to deal with that. My husband has apologized to me and my son but doesn't understand why I am still angry. He says he was just kidding when he said it and it wasn't intended to hurt. He is now angry with me because I can't let go of my anger....

    Bookmark   November 13, 2008 at 7:34PM
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iowagirl, I am very sorry for your loss.

I am very much like you, in that I do not understand and will have extreme anger when someone says something obviously offensive to me or to anyone really. Name calling, yelling and harsh language are not something I take lightly. And an apology does nothing for me. I also question a one time occurence as well because they will most likely do it again.

I become very resentful and will eventually sever the relationship, but I don't really know what to tell you because this is your husband.

I sooo do not understand why people think an apology for an obvious slight or insult would do anything. Most of the time I think apologies are overrated anyway. You just DON'T do certain things. So frustrating.

But I would tell your ex-husband before your son does.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2008 at 9:09PM
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Was he joking?

What were the circumstances?

Did he just make the winning shot in a game of basketball with DS and blurt out "LOSER!!!" in a spontaneous competitive gloat?

Was it a sarcastic response to DS coming home with a B+ instead of all A's "oh, yeah, what a loser you are, only a B+?"


If it was really a joke, the normal kind of joshing that would go on between friends who know better than to take it seriously (I have been known to call my friend who lives in Tampa a b!tch because it's 75 and sunny while I'm freezing, but she knows I don't **mean** it, and men can be a LOT worse than women about "friendly" insults), then you should forgive him. After hitting him upside the head (someone send her the lamp) and explaining to him that you CANNOT joke with a brand new teenage stepchild as if he's an old buddy.

If he meant it, and is trying to pass it off as a joke after the fact, that's a different thing...

    Bookmark   November 13, 2008 at 9:30PM
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Good point... what was the context of the comment?

    Bookmark   November 13, 2008 at 9:41PM
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I agree with the whole idea of giving a person ONE freebie to make an inappropriate comment or action because we're all human and we all screw up. In general I think giving a person the benefit of the doubt until the upsetting behavior becomes a pattern is a good way to go. Of course I hardly know any details, but it could be that your husband was trying to feel out or establish with your son that there could be that friendly "all in fun" teasing that often goes on between guys in a sports context. If that's truly the case, then that dynamic does have to start with one of them making the first "jab".

But here's the million dollar question, the real litmus test: DH can dish it out, but can he take it?

I have found with several folks who like to do a lot of "just joking" that it's really a passive-aggressive form of abuse. Sometimes it isn't, and the way you know that is if they genuinely laugh or take it on the chin when you turn it back on them, because that kind of sparring truly is just fun for them and totally innocuous. They are just thicker-skinned people and often hilarious friends! But the ones who can't take it are the ones who are doing it to hurt and hiding their bullying attitutde behind "just jokes".

If it was me in your situation, I wouldn't put my son right away in the position of having to turn it back on DH, I'd first talk to DH privately myself and ask him: "Since it's all just good-natured joking, should I be encouraging my son to throw it back at you? Calling you candy-ass and such? You know, to build that male bond?" See what he says. If he says sure that's fine, he could mean it or he could be bluffing. Then say: "Okay then! I'll let my son know that it's cool for him to throw it back at you... I think this male bonding joking thing will be great for both of you..." Then later if DH has a problem with it or gets made at your son for saying soemthing similar, make sure you say in front of both of them: "Well, you said you wanted to build that kind of joking dynamic, so no, kiddo is not in trouble for what he said to you. However, if you think this could be a problem, maybe we ought to rethink the ribbing thing. What do you think?"

    Bookmark   November 14, 2008 at 9:59AM
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On the opposite end of the scale - could it be that your son is a loser? I know that sounds really weird but sometimes you see things more clearly when you're on the outside...

And if that isn't the case, I still don't understand why you're THAT angry. Read this forum - there will probably be many many many many ups and downs in your future (it's just the way of stepfamilies). Creating a successful stepfamily takes time, patience, understanding, open communication, give and take and sometimes very thick skin...

    Bookmark   November 14, 2008 at 2:04PM
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Serenity Now, you give great advice..Thank you so much for an intelligent and compassionate solution.
lone piper, what do I say to a person that asks a mom if her son is a loser? I guess I really don't have a response for you because I don't understand where you are coming from? Oh and btw, my son is not a loser....A mom can not step on the outside and see her children from any other way except with love, pride and admiration...

    Bookmark   November 14, 2008 at 3:48PM
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Iowa, I agree with you. Every teen that I know does agravating things, and it doesnt make them a loser and a parent or step shouldnt say that. But I agree with Serentiy, everyone can lose their temper and say stupid things. I am also sorry for your loss.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2008 at 3:54PM
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A mom can not step on the outside and see her children from any other way except with love, pride and admiration...

Why not? Unless you're an ostrich and you're sticking your head in the sand. You can still love your child with all your heart and yet know that they have faults and flaws and quirks...everybody does - no one is perfect. What a burden that would be for a child to carry.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2008 at 11:29AM
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Yeah, but there's a difference between awareness of your bio-child's "quirks" ---which suggests a few random glitches in an overall well-functioning individual--- and the totalizing, all-around-negative label of "loser". Maybe to some people this is just a minor semantic distinction, but with the notable exception of anyone who would have the label applied to THEMSELVES or to their own child. I'd be willing to put money on the wager that nobody on this forum would be okay with being told that they or their kids was a "loser", no matter what the justification, even if it was being stated with so-called "objectivity" or supposedly "for the kid's own good". There are certainly better and nicer words to use to express concern for a kid's development.

Lonepiper, I often agree with things you write and to my knowledge you are usually much nicer and more level-headed than that post of yours made you sound. So I'll give you benefit of the doubt that you didn't mean what you said to sound as harsh as it did.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2008 at 11:46AM
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"There are certainly better and nicer words to use to express concern for a kid's development."

I agree. I would personally want to rip the head off anyone if they called one of my stepdaughter's a loser. I'm not saying that Iowa's husband was in the "right" for calling a child names, but I am saying that (1) an outsider sometimes sees things very differently than those completely immersed in a particular situation (one of the reasons why we have forums like this - to get fresh perspectives as others sometimes view things differently than we do), and (2) there will be many ups and downs in the beginning of a new stepfamily and it sounds like Iowa is already giving up the battle - "I can't get rid of the anger I feel towards him though." There will be many more problems to come and if this is one of the first problems she has come across in her new blended family, then learning how to move forward with healing and forgiveness would be beneficial.

And I am argumentative today (I agree that "harsh" may be an appropriate word to use) and despite the fact that I usually agree with what you say as well I don't need you to bestow the benefit of your doubt upon me. I don't post to seek anyone's approval. Sometimes I just get tired of dancing around everyone's emotions and dwelling on things that can't be changed - make lemonade, it's much more productive.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2008 at 12:35PM
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lonepiper, I get what you are saying... I agree.

A parent usually can't see their children as the world may see them and it does sound harsh to say 'step outside your bubble and see your kid as the loser he/she may be' but the reality is that it's a disservice when parents coddle the children and make excuses for them. There are lots of wonderful things about my kids, but I also recognize the not so wonderful things. It's fine to be proud, but when the rest of the world sees something else and the parent sticks their head in the sand, claiming their little angel is still a good kid, well they are doing their kid a disservice. Lots of those parents are visiting their kid every Sunday through glass/bars and/or raising their grandkids. Denial can be so damaging!

I love my kids and would never call them a loser, but when my oldest son dropped out of high school, I tried to persuade him to go back but he said he wanted to work and didn't need to finish high school. I helped him get a decent job & as soon as I helped him get a car of his own, he quit his job and moved out. He chose to go live on my mom's couch because she didn't have rules and he thought he is 18 (an adult?) so he can do what he wants. He was a bum and I couldn't sugar coat it. Fortunately, he did go back to school and got his GED. But, it was my job as his mom to see 'reality' and with him, it took lots of 'tough love'. He joined the Army a few months ago and hopefully stays with it. Before that, he aspired to be a 'sign guy'... you know, he wanted to dance on a street corner, holding a sign. I was as supportive as a mom can be... told him I'm proud he has a job. But, the reality is that I feared he was heading in the direction of loserville. It would have been wrong to tell him he's a loser (or heading in that direction), so I think OP's DH was wrong to say that, but as parents, we have a responsibility to be realistic and not sugar coat things when the rest of the world is rolling their eyes at the ignorance of a parent that makes excuses for a child that is doing the wrong thing.

Not sure if OP's son is doing the wrong thing or not so I'm not commenting on that. I'm also sorry for your loss, but you should not let it impair your ability to be objective in regard to your son. I'd suggest counseling for you (grief & family) and parenting classes for your husband... so he can know that it's inappropriate to talk to a child that way.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2008 at 12:38PM
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"Sometimes I just get tired of dancing around everyone's emotions and dwelling on things that can't be changed - make lemonade, it's much more productive."

I agree lonepiper. I have days like that too, but I'm glad on the other day's when I need a forum like this, I can count on the empathy of other women. Also, we all have to keep in mind that everyone here is experiencing step parenthood in varying degrees well as we are of differing ages...I am 52 and I certainly don't have the same view on things as I did at 22, 32 or even 42. we all need to keep that in mind.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2008 at 4:22PM
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Not helpful at all, but I once gave my sister a card of an old lady with saggy boobs, holding two lemons.
Front text:
"When life gives you lemons..."
Inside text:
"Stick them in your bra. Might help, couldn't hurt."

We laughed our butts off.
But I'm not sure you can stick BM/SKs/DH/Ex in your bra.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2008 at 4:29PM
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I have to semi-agree with Lonepiper on this as well. While the SF could of been a ton more tactful there may be some truth to his statement. I can empathize because I too get sick of avoiding to obvious to save feelings at times.....obviously. Sometimes the truth is just the truth.

I'm not saying that is deffinatly the case here but I can see why Piper asked the questions she did. Here's a good example:

My sister got pregnant in highschool. It was a very trying traumatic time for her and the rest of my family. Very tuff times. The baby daddy ran off to another state with his tail tucked between his legs, stayed high and very shortly after leaving wound up in prison for armed robbery. He was some ones little boy and I am sure she loves him dearly but he was a LOSER! There's no way around it. He was a 100% loser. His mother didn't see it that way. She had 10,000 excuses for his behavior including (SHOCKER)the fact he came from a broken home.

Again I'm not saying this is the way this situation is but I can see why Piper asked what she asked.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2008 at 4:55PM
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I agree that if this 17-year-old is a criminal who steals money from SF, swears at his mother, smokes dope in the house, got somebody pregnant, and dropped out of school, maybe calling him a loser is somehow justified.

other than that it is more productive to give some good suggestions for improvement, not putting him down.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2008 at 6:16PM
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Lonepiper "Sometimes I just get tired of dancing around everyone's emotions and dwelling on things that can't be changed..."

I hear that. And I understand what you are saying about the kid, re whether or not he is a "loser". We've asked (I've asked) what the context of the comment was and there was no response. Not that there's ever an excuse to call names, but sometimes it happens, and if it happened in one situation hurt feelings may be justified (why can't you be like so and so, you're such a loser, you can't do anything right) while in another situation (joking "you're such a loser" or sarcastic, or something like that) it would seem more logical to say, hey back off or no, you're the loser, and leave it at that.

As an aside, my DD and DH sometimes get into it. He'll say, I'm going to eat all the cookies and she starts to get pouty. At first I was irritated at him because he was "being mean" and then I realized that's how he plays. Now I just tell her to tell him "no way, you stay away from my cookie buster" or something like that. She likes being able to say no to him and then they can establish a "playful teasing" that feels good for both of them. Once she knew the rules she was all in!

I wonder too, if the son is 17, and this is a new husband, how long they've been married, and how is the relationship between them? Joking, serious, friendly, strained?

If you want to stop being mad Iowa, perhaps you should tell DH you're still mad at him. In a nice way, of course. Honey, I know you said you were joking, and you said you were sorry, but I just can't get past what you said. It really hurt me and it hurt me because I know it hurt my son. Is there some way we can move past this so that it's not between all of us anymore? I'm not sure what to do, but maybe we could ________ (some activity DS likes to do) together this weekend.

All you can do is move forward. Get it out, put it on the table, and then figure out a way to pack it up or throw it out.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2008 at 2:02PM
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