How do I stop my kids from bullying their stepfather?

minnesota_mamaNovember 8, 2008

My daughters ages 11 and 13 refuse to acknowledge my husband (their step-father) existance. If he asks them a question, they act like he didn't say anything. If he enters the room, they quickly scamper away. They refuse to eat at the dinner table when my husband is there.

They have developed some severe bullying attitudes towards my husband who no longer wants to tolerate it. Their behavior towards him makes him very uncomfortable and it's hurtful. We have been married 4+ years.

Their dad encourages their actions and applauds them when they tell him stories about what they did to my husband.

How do I stop their bullying of my husband?

I'm leaning towards having them go live with their dad because they refuse to change and won't even discuss what they're doing. When I try to talk to them about what they're doing, they leave the room or start loudly playing the piano?

Any advice is GREATLY APPRECIATED. I'm at my wits end. My husband can't stand being so uncomfortable in our home.

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How sad for your DH. The thought of having to live that way in my own home for over 4 years is something that resembles a prison camp in my mind.

I do not think that I would send the kiddies to live with EX just yet. After all, if he is encouraging this behavior then being around him even more is not going to be good for the kids even if having birds of a feather flocking together seems like the easiest thing to do. I would take their little butts to a counselor and have them evaluated and then have them treated. I would consider involving the courts (if you can) to include dear old dad in the counseling also. He needs to have his head examined.

I feel very sorry for your husband. I don't quite understand how you allowed it to get to this point though. Have you always felt that you have no control or authority over them? You are the CP and should have been implementing some kick butt punishments for these two long before it got to this point. I say it's never too late to start. If you don't work hard on this mean behavior they will be passing it onto others, if they haven't done so already.

Your husband can stand up to them too you know and with you beside him he should do that. I would be cutting off all the little extras in life and giving these little ladies (and I use the term loosely) just the bare necessities of life. House them, feed them, clothe them, (nothing new) and take them to a behavior specialist.

Put your parent hat on and get busy. Why have you allowed this? If you haven't given the ex a piece of your mind I would start now. Start by letting him know all of the privileges that him encouraging your daughters to purposely hurt their SF has cost them. Take control of the entire situation.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2008 at 12:45AM
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Well, they don't seem to have a lot of time for YOU, either, if they feel free to walk out on you or loudly play the piano when you're trying to talk with them. How did they get to this point?

    Bookmark   November 9, 2008 at 12:46AM
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How about all of you sitting down and having a discussion...let them know that you understand they are getting their father's approval for this behavior, which is perpetuating it and that it's the wrong way to get dads approval. Tell them if they love you and respect you, then they need to treat the man that you love with respect and civility. let them know he's not there to take their father's place. Personally, I wouldn't let them eat if they didn't see fit to sit at the table with the rest of you...hunger may be a great motivator. Sometimes its ok to play hardball. They seem to have too much power in that house.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2008 at 10:51AM
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If they were my girls they would be on restriction until they learned to be respectful whether they wanted to or not...Your girls have total control over this situation..take it back!

    Bookmark   November 9, 2008 at 2:15PM
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I agree with almost all of what has been written above. YOU need to fix it NOW. You're 3.9 years overdue, plus your girls are at a particularly nasty age. It'll be ten times as hard now as it would have been 4 years ago.

Sit them both down in a place with no distractions and lay down the law. I'd try it with both together, but if that won't work, divide and conquer. Maybe talk to them in the car at the side of the road or in a parking lot (stomping distance from home?) -- whatever it takes to get them to listen.

Keep your rules simple and short, and set the bar realistically low. In other words, they are not required to be nice, but are absolutely required to be civil. Dinner will be eaten together at the family table, and anyone who doesn't want to eat, doesn't eat. (Period. Get a cheap plastic locker and padlock if needed.) All questions will be answered in a polite manner. (Ask Hubby to keep them minimal at first.) Make a written list of your rules and post them on the wall. Also pre-determine consequences for breaking the rules -- loss of computer, phone, gaming, TV, iPod, piano, activities -- and FOLLOW THROUGH. Make your punishments short but severe. Since their behavior has become habitual, maybe come up with a 'warning' signal you can give them so that they can turn it around before losing a privilege.

Now on the BioDad. He needs to understand that by encouraging them to behave that way, he is turning his children into little monsters. They are already disrespecting you; it won't be long before they turn their disrespect on HIM. And on anyone else who displeases them -- teachers, friends, coworkers and bosses. He is doing them NO FAVOR and actually causing them quite a bit of damage.

You may want to gather some hard evidence of Dad's support before launching your 'fix' campaign. Why? Because I'm guessing YOU will not be able to change Dad's mind, no matter how persuasive your speech, because a Dad who does that isn't thinking clearly. But try to persuade him. Give him a chance and ask for his help in turning the girls' behavior around. Maybe write him an email? Several? And if he refuses, drag his butt into court because a judge will straighten him out pretty quick. Family court judges see this kind of thing a lot and have very little tolerance for this kind of carp. Maybe ask for court-ordered counselling and compliance monitoring? Or ask that if Dad won't comply, that he lose unsupervised contact with the girls?

Frankly, I'm surprised your husband has put up with this as long as he has.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2008 at 2:47PM
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The only ones getting what they want are the girls.
If they are allowed to walk out of the room and play the piano in lieu of talking to you, their lack of respect is for you too!!! I'd lock the piano if a way to do that. They are abusing the use of it to ignore you.
When talking to them and they walk out of the room, go get their smart butts and bring them back. For each of their little displays of meanness, they lose a priviledge. What they lose depends on the severity of their actions.
They won't sit as a fmily and eat, then they go without. Sitting down together is the opportunity to discuss everyone's day and whatever issues there may be.
Do they act this way in scool towards anyone? Let the school know they can be disciplined for it.
It appears some of this is because you allow them to act out. It's really up to you if something is going to be done about it. It's only going to get worse , not better, if it's left as it is right now.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2008 at 2:51PM
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You need to open a can of whoop *ss on those girls! Why on earth would you allow your kids to treat your DH, yourself, or anyone, like that? Turn their world upside down until they have earned their lives back. Take away everything they enjoy (music, computer, cell phone, tv, etc) until they can treat others with respect!

    Bookmark   November 10, 2008 at 1:16PM
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It is really to bad you didn't nip this in bud. It is certainly going to be more difficult to teach them respect and manners now. Have they been doing this for the 4+ yrs of your marriage? Bio dad doesn't deserve to see his daughter if this is how he wants to raise them. Good luck.

    Bookmark   November 10, 2008 at 1:26PM
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If these kids have been permitted to act like this for so long with no consequence, why should they want to change now? To be blunt, it's past time to blame them and high time to blame yourself. Talks and consequences need to begin now, but I think you need to admit and own that they should have happened long ago. Old dogs, new tricks . . .

    Bookmark   November 11, 2008 at 12:37AM
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Thank you, everyone. I'm going to have a talk with my husband about some of your suggestions so we're on the same page. There is more to the story but I can tell you get the gist of it. Please continue with any thoughts and suggestions you have. I'm listening.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2008 at 1:00AM
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"Maybe talk to them in the car at the side of the road or in a parking lot (stomping distance from home?) "

You cracked me up!! I can just imagine it.

Minnesota Mama, I agree with what Sweeby said. Don't tolerate this any longer. It's not healthy for the girls, and it's not healthy for your household. If they keep this up, just imagine what their adulthood will be like. They need to understand that even if they don't like someone they must be civil, and since this is your husband they must be respectful. This does not mean kissing his feet, it means treating him like a human being. It sounds like you are not being treated with respect either. Respect has to be earned, but it is a two way street.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2008 at 2:08PM
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this is terrible and shouldn't be tolerated. put a stop to it. and talk to your X, he should not be talking nasty about their stepdad.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2008 at 1:28PM
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"Maybe talk to them in the car at the side of the road or in a parking lot (stomping distance from home?) "

I was that kind of kid and older DS is too, so I know a bit about stomping off in a huff! ;-)
In DS's case, in one of our deep-good discussions, I joked with him about being able to lead a horse to water but not being able to make him drink. I told him that in his case, I could drag him to the water, shove his head into the trough and hold it underwater -- but that he was so stubborn he still wouldn't drink! He laughed, but admitted it was true.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2008 at 1:55PM
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