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Please help me with whatever advice/input you have

Posted by lovehadley (My Page) on
Thu, Apr 16, 09 at 10:25

I love my DH dearly--but he has a stubborn streak and when he does not want to hear something, he does NOT want to hear it. (Actually--I might be a bit like that myself :) )

SS is out of control. I do not say that in a critical or mean spirited way. OF COURSE he is out of control. He has so many things stacked against him. His parents are split up and he goes between homes. He struggles with learning/academic issues and school is not fun for him. His mother is an alcoholic.

MORE than anything, he needs clear boundaries and rules and limitations. I do believe that kids really crave those things---they want to know what is expected of them, and they want guidelines and rules to keep them safe.

My DH loves his son---but he is NOT good about being consistent with anything. When I met him, I was shocked that he had no routine for SS---I have always been so big on routines for my DD. Home from school (back then it was daycare), snack, play, dinner, bath, story, bed. DH never did any of that. He would put SS to bed at 9:30 or 10 pm when he was not even 2 yrs old! Even now, most nights he tells SS that he can do his homework in the morning, that he doesn't have to take a bath, etc. I parent SO DIFFERENTLY from that. My DD does her homework every afternoon on her own-she takes a bath EVERY single night, save for the occasional Friday night or whatever. Bedtime is consistently at 8 pm but I have to NAG DH to do these things for his son. It will be 8 pm and he says "oh, let's let them stay up until 8:30 tonight." Well, the problem is---it takes a good 15-20 minutes to actually GET them to bed, what with brushing teeth, going potty, bedtime stories, etc. So starting at 8 is crucial because then they are actually IN BED and ready for sleep around 8:15 or 8:30.

He vehemently denies this but the truth is--he THREATENS all the time but RARELY does anything. He will say to SS five times "if you don't stop shouting at the dinner table, you're going to time out." And SS keeps shouting and NOTHING happens except DH eventually, after the 12th time, gets angry, yells and FINALLY sends SS to his room. Scenes like this occur in our home constantly.

And it is all so unneccessary! If DH would just issue the warning--and then FOLLOW THROUGH if need be. No yelling, or getting angry. Just consistent expectations and boundaries.

SS is getting out of control with his backtalk and attitude. Everything DH asks him to do, or reprimands him about is met with defiance. And DH does nothing. Or he makes these stupid threats---like "keep it up and you'll spend the rest of the night in your room." Well, DUH--DH is not going to make SS stay in his room for 5 hours and everyone, INCLUDING SS, darn well knows it!

ANY time I try to talk with DH about this he says that my DD is just as bad, that it's just "the two of them together" and that I don't have any better boundaries than he does.

Not to pat myself on the back or toot my own horn--I have made many parenting mistakes like anyone! BUT I am consistent with DD and I believe the PROOF is in the pudding. She is (95% of the time) well behaved; she does very well in school, always has glowing report cards, follows directions, and does NOT backtalk me--not to say that she doesn't have her snippy moments but I am quick to nip them in the bud. I really, really am saying this objectively---I know I am *biased* towards my DD but really--she does NOT have these behavioral issues that SS does. She ALSO has a lot more going for her than he does---doesn't go back and forth between two homes, doesn't have a mother with substance abuse problems, etc. So of course life is *easier* for her. I don't have the same issues with her because she doesn't have the same issues going on in her life. I feel TERRIBLE for my SS that he has all these things stacked against him--but IMO those just emphasize all the more the need for consistency and stability in his life. We can't control what BM does at her house but we CAN control what goes on in ours.

Anyway, this all came to a head because my mom and her DH and my grandparents have spoken to me about SS's behavior. We usually see them every other week or so. My mom and her DH were at our house for SS's birthday two weeks ago, and then we were all together on Easter, as well.

My mom called me and said that her DH is considering emailing MY DH. Apparently, they are all just fed up with SS's behavior and my DH's lack of doing anything. My mom noted the disrespect, the loudness (really, he is LOUD all the time), the wild-running-not-listening behavior, etc. On Easter Sunday, I thought my mom's DH was in a weird mood--he went into his home office for a good hour and was just very anti-social. I found out from my mom yesterday when I spoke to her that he just dislikes being around SS that much. :( UGH. We are becoming the family that no one wants around anymore. :(

I do think it might be good for my mom's DH to email my DH. They get along well, and my mom's DH is more *objective* than my mom. I KNOW DH will see this as them being biased towards my DD. I think there is a *small* amount of that going on. Not really bias--but my mom kept reiterating to me that they are ALL really concerned about SS's behavior affecting my DD. I do think THAT is the driving factor in this--they are concerned about the effect this chaos will have on my DD.

Truly, a lot of it is being said out of concern for SS too. My family has always been so good to him. My grandparents refer to him as their "great grandchild." He gets cards for every holiday, presents at Christmas and his birthday, my grandma sends him a monthly children's magazine just like she does for DD, etc. When he was playing soccer, they went to some of his games, etc. They truly do care about him and treat him so well---and I think if it were MY DD exhibiting these behavioral issues, they would call ME out on it as well.


So I talked with DH a bit last night--and his mature response was "tell your family I will never be around them again."

Ooooh, I am so mad at him!

I get that he is defensive about his child--but at the same time---there are MANY people who see these issues: my mom, her husband, my grandparents, my dad, my dad's girlfriend, one of MY friends even pointed it out awhile ago. We spent a week last summer (in the throes of the court case) in Michigan with my dad and his GF and her kids, and a friend of my dad's--and I found out later that they were all appalled by SS's disrespectful attitude towards adults. And my dad noted the same thing---that DH does NOT make SS listen!

I think the thing is, no one is criticizing SS, they are criticizing DH's parenting!

I don't know HOW to get him on board! HELP!


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Please help me with whatever advice/input you have

I'm frantically waving my magic wand here...

Well, not really. But there's not really much else we can do to help. You seen to have a pretty realistic and fair grasp of the situation -- so it's not really a matter of us advising you how to handle things better. Hubby needs to improve his parenting to provide the kind of limits and structure his son so desperately needs. You know this. At some level, Hubby probably knows it too -- but he won't admit it -- especially to you or your parents. So don't let them send that e-mail -- you've already seen how he responded. And it's not a matter of who's right or how accurately and dispassionately it's stated. It's a direct criticism of his parenting (coming from someone whose right to criticize is shaky), and it doesn't seem to be welcome input.

If it were me, I'd try the sneaky kid gloves, tip-toe, indirect approach. Something along the lines of "There are some pretty significant differences in our parenting styles that seem to be confusing for the kids. Now I'm not saying who's right or who's wrong, (even thought we both know) but I think it would be a good idea if we worked together with a family counselor to come up with a single set of rules and a consistent set of strategies that works for both of us."

In other words, without saying (or even implying - deny, deny, deny!) that there's anything wrong with the way he parents, get him into a parenting class or counseling ASAP. Let him learn what to do and how to do it from someone other than yourself.

That's all I can offer...


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RE: Please help me with whatever advice/input you have

I'm sorry, I forgot. Can you answer this please?

How old are the kids?
How long have you been married?
Is DD your and DH's bio-kid?
How often is SS at your house?

Besides that... I tend to parent similar to you. DD takes a bath/shower every night, does her homework every afternoon, and we start preparing for bed at 7:00 for her 7:30 bedtime. She's 7. She backtalks on occasion, and I nip it quickly. She is thought of as well-behaved by adults in general and gets on fine at school and activities. Family members often wish to "borrow" her for activities and overnighters. It would be very difficult for me to see this kind of behavior and not have everyone working to stop it. In this way I'm lucky my DH is stricter than I am!!!

It's common for bio-parents to get defensive about their kids. I can see how your DH would go to that feeling first. This must be hard for him. When I met my DH it was difficult for me to take criticism (heck, it still is!!!) about my dd because I get that little niggling voice in my head saying "if she were his, he wouldn't be this critical"...

who knows if it's true or not? It's a real feeling, that's for sure!!

Do you have family rules? Maybe it would help to write down the rules that you agree on? And then have a "family meeting" and talk about those rules...

In this family, we:
Chew with our mouths closed
Take turns talking
Respect one another and others
Keep common areas clean
Manage our time wisely
Use inside voices
Listen to one another

etc...


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RE: Please help me with whatever advice/input you have

How old are the kids? They are the same age. SS just turned 7 a couple weeks ago, and DD will be 7 next month.

How long have you been married? We have only been married since September. BUT we have been together since the kids were about 20 months old; and we have lived together for almost 3 years.

Is DD your and DH's bio-kid? Nope. Her dad is not around AT ALL, though.

How often is SS at your house? DH has joint custody. SS is with us every Wed. and Thurs night AND EOW. It goes: BM has him for 5 days, we have him for 5 days, BM has him for 2 days, we have him for 2 days, repeat.


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RE: Please help me with whatever advice/input you have

Thanks. I get confused!!

Approx. 5 years of dual influence...so this pattern has been going on for a long time. Now is the time to crack down IMO. But it's kind of hard when both parents aren't on board.

It sounds to me like the biggest issue is consistency. Setting a schedule, following through on punishments...

One thing that jumps out at me is the late bedtime. It seems you and DH probably don't get very much alone night time together. What if the bedtime was posed as "so we can spend some time together"... For me and my DH that is our down time, our alone time.

Have you discussed how you will parent? It seems to me (no judgment) that this has been going on for a really long time with nothing having been done about it. I can see how your DH would feel attacked over this if it has not been an ongoing discussion. You really need to be a team on this. Your SS sees the chinks in your armor and is manipulating it for all he's worth.


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RE: Please help me with whatever advice/input you have

"What if the bedtime was posed as "so we can spend some time together"... For me and my DH that is our down time, our alone time"

HA. This would not work because DH feels he doesn't get enough time with his son, as it is. He would argue that we have plenty of *alone* time when SS is with his mom. That's not really the case because DD is still always with us--but trust me, when it is just her, things are just so much calmer and quieter that it FEELS like alone time!

He doesn't have a late bedtime anymore--because of me. When I MET DH, he was putting his not even 2 year old son to bed around 9:30 or 10 pm. I absolutely put a kabosh (sp?) on that because whether he thinks it's necessary or not--my DD needs to be in bed at 8. Period. She wakes up around 6:45 or 7 AM and I like her to get at least 10 hours of sleep, preferably closer to 11.

So they go to bed at 8--but it is NOT without me having to REMIND and NAG DH.

This has been an ongoing issue, albeit not one that I have addressed at length. Anytime I have brought it up, DH just shoots me down. Like I said before, he does NOT want to hear what he doesn't want to hear. His stubbornness/refusal to be "told" what to do is a definite weak point in our relationship and communication.


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bedtime

"What if the bedtime was posed as "so we can spend some time together"... For me and my DH that is our down time, our alone time"

HA. This would not work because DH feels he doesn't get enough time with his son, as it is. He would argue that we have plenty of *alone* time when SS is with his mom. That's not really the case because DD is still always with us--but trust me, when it is just her, things are just so much calmer and quieter that it FEELS like alone time!

He doesn't have a late bedtime anymore--because of me. When I MET DH, he was putting his not even 2 year old son to bed around 9:30 or 10 pm. I absolutely put a kabosh (sp?) on that because whether he thinks it's necessary or not--my DD needs to be in bed at 8. Period. She wakes up around 6:45 or 7 AM and I like her to get at least 10 hours of sleep, preferably closer to 11.

So they go to bed at 8--but it is NOT without me having to REMIND and NAG DH.

This has been an ongoing issue, albeit not one that I have addressed at length. Anytime I have brought it up, DH just shoots me down. Like I said before, he does NOT want to hear what he doesn't want to hear. His stubbornness/refusal to be "told" what to do is a definite weak point in our relationship and communication.


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RE: sympathy

Oh love!!

My dd is asleep by 7:30 and up at 5:00-5:30. I also like her to get around 10 hours of sleep.

I can understand him feeling he doesn't get enough time with his son. But there is such thing as quality vs quantity. What are they doing the whole time?

And alone time is essential in a relationship, I feel.

Sounds like your DH wants to be the "fun guy" rather than the father. This will bite him in the butt later on. As you probably know! Do you have a timer? I set one in the bathroom for my dd, brushing teeth, etc. At 7:00 the timer starts, and she has so much time to get things done. If she doesn't finish in time, she doesn't get the story or television time that "slows down/ends" the day.

I would hate nagging every night. I have absolutely no advice, as you can tell. But I do have SYMPATHY!!!!


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RE: Please help me with whatever advice/input you have

Many things my ex practiced came back to bite her too, like asking the kids to do chores. When they were younger, she said she didn't think kids ought to have to help out. Now she wants it, she gets no help at all, although the eldest if I believe her, has started to, because she lives a semi-adult life out in the real world now.

I don't think it would be helpful for family to intervene given what dh's reaction was...unless there's a relative on HIS side that might speak up.

I think the best solution is to get joint therapy, the 4 of you, and you insist on it.


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RE: Please help me with whatever advice/input you have

Your dh sounds like so many guys! My dh is at fault for not following through. He hates being the bad guy so he often does these stupid "warnings and threats" that he does not follow through on till I step in. In the past we would actually get into big arguments about it. Sometimes I actually felt like he had no problem sticking to my ds's punishments, but he could not bear to see his little "angels" punished and unhappy. GRRR....

Luckily we have come a long way. Hang in there and be consistant with the kids. And keep trying to get dh to be more consistant. The ladies here had lots of good ideas....something has to work!


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RE: Please help me with whatever advice/input you have

Like you said, your SS is not a bad kid. You and DH not being on the same page is the damaging factor in this family.

Maybe say something like:

"honey, I'm concerned that our not being on the same page is teaching our children bad habits. Can we work on this please? What is important to you for the kids to learn/how they act/what kind of kids they are? How do you think we should parent to get them to have those qualities/learn those skills/act as we want them too? How can I help you model the behaviors you would like to see in our children? I think my reactions may be putting a roadblock in the way of their success. I know I wouldn't be motivated when people are yelling at me. Can you think of some ways we can come together on this so we're not playing good cop/bad cop all the time?"


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RE: Please help me with whatever advice/input you have

I don't think it would be such a bad idea if your mom's dh said something to your dh. It won't go over well from what you say, but once your dh cools off, he may actually be receptive since this is coming from a man with whom he has a good relationship and respects. My dh raised his kids with the idle threats that were rarely acted upon and now that these kids are adults, they have paid a price. The oldest - 25, is finally acting close to her age. Both kids come across as immature, spoiled and sometimes selfish. Deep down these are not bad people, but sold short in the personal development department. The lack of personal discipline has really been an obstucle to overcome, and like I said, the older one finally gets it, but the younger one is still struggling. I know that my dh loves his kids more than anything and he would die for them, but he didn't do them any favors in the long run - just a disservice.


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RE: Please help me with whatever advice/input you have

I don't really think it is a bad idea either.

Ideally, it should be DH's family to express concern for their grandson but he really has no family. :( His father lives in a different state and has only met his grandson twice in the 7 years since he was born. His dad is not a bad guy persay, just busy, has two teenage daughters from his 2nd marriage, a wife, etc. He calls a lot and is great about staying in touch--but he is certainly not in a position to know what's going on.

My family has spent infinite more time with DH. We get together a few times a month for Sunday dinner.

I think my mom's husband could present things in a good, positive and diplomatic light. (My own father--no way!) But my mom's DH and MY DH have a good friendship of sorts. When DD and I were out of town for 2 weeks, my mom's DH invited DH and SS over for dinner--and another night they went out to dinner. They've done some business related work together and I do think DH would ultimately respect what he has to say.

It's a fine line. I really cannot push him at this point. HE feels like I nagged him to be home MORE and now I complaining that he's not doing enough? Heehee. It is true. I am happy that he has been making an effort to put business aside and be more available for SS. He leaves work early on Wednesdays and picks him up from school which is a HUGE help to me. And Thursdays he is home by 5 pm. He still works late on Fridays and he works on Saturdays, but this is a good compromise and doesn't leave me feeling so burdened. BUT then---DH just wants to play Wii all night! LOL.


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RE: Please help me with whatever advice/input you have

"Like you said, your SS is not a bad kid. You and DH not being on the same page is the damaging factor in this family."

That is the core issue.

Personally I wouldn't want my mom's DH to get involved. It's family and you are already aware it's opening a whole other can of worms. Not worth the risk.

However I do agree that it probably helps if somebody else helps DH with his parenting skills. My DH seemed to take things on board from the counselor that he didn't want to accept when I said it. It was a bit annoying but mostly funny when he started telling me how "this or that" should be handled. Uhh, DUH!! But I was just happy we were finally on the same page and now it is soo much better.I mean we still have our moments and I'm certainly not always perfect either, but consistency and routine are important to kids IMO.

Parenting classes sounds like a good idea to me, and I would probably approach that as in "let's go together to see what WE can learn" so DH doesn't get his back up too much.

Good luck, I know it's frustrating and it's not that easy to fix, but certainly not impossible.


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RE: Please help me with whatever advice/input you have

No offense, but I think it's a really bad idea to have your Mom's DH talk to your DH about it. In fact, I think if I was DH I would really be offended.

The thing is, pretty much all of what you described as out of control is just plain old parenting differences and SS's personality. And I'm sure a lot has to do with his current situation. None of it, imo, is really out of control or crazy. I can see if SS was wiping boogers on your parents at dinner or hitting them, your daughter etc as out of control.

I think it would go better if you just flat out said to your husband that SS's behavior (shouting at dinner, etc) in front of your parents really embarasses you and your parents are kind of put off by it. I would accept that much better than my spouse's parents trying to tell me whats wrong with my kid.

And maybe, with all that's gone on in your situation, you can suggest parenting classes to help SS deal. This might also help DH with guilty parenting. Cause really, a professional would probably get through to him better than your parents. Unless your parents have had kids in SS situation. Because I could easily see your husband brushing them and their suggestions off because they've never had to co-parent their kid with a crazy alcoholic. KWIM? And also, I think your husband may feel he is really in a tough spot. He has you to worry about, with all that just happened. Worrying about SS and his safety, I can easily see taking care of back talking as very low on his priority list right now. And he just may plain feel hounded from all sides if your parents start in. A professional would be much easier on him. Just my 2 cents.


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RE: Please help me with whatever advice/input you have

"And also, I think your husband may feel he is really in a tough spot. He has you to worry about, with all that just happened. Worrying about SS and his safety, I can easily see taking care of back talking as very low on his priority list right now."

But see, that is the whole point---these issues with SS have been going on for a very long time. It was last year that we went to MI with my dad and he took note of the disrespect and DH's lack of discipline, and mentioned it to me.

My mom's point is simply that NOW with all the crazy, out of control behavior in his life, SS needs limits and boundaries from DH more than ever. He needs to have a place where he KNOWS what will happen and where consistency is a given. THAT has to be our house because it sure as h*ll can't be BM's.

I do understand the idea that it would be a bad idea for family to get involved, and I don't entirely disagree. I see both points completely.

My mom is coming from the point of view of a recovering alcoholic. She has been sober for 7+ years. She and her DH attend a weekly family group meeting for families dealing with alcholism---so a lot of their ideas/notions are coming from this family group and "tough love" type stuff.


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