Return to the Stepfamily Forum | Post a Follow-Up

 o
was i disrespectful?

Posted by bkinva (My Page) on
Fri, Apr 1, 11 at 11:26

Hi all - I've come to these forums on and off for a while while searching for tidbits of advice, but never posted here myself. But I want to put this out there and see if I'm off base.

Background: My wife and I married about 15 months ago - I have two teenage boys and she has a 7 year old daughter.

Right now, I'm in the middle of "renegotiating" the visitation and custody of my boys with my ex (I have the boys now, and have for the past 5+ years - I don't expect it to change, but the uncertainty is adding some stress on all of us).

On top of this, about 3 months ago I caught my older son "sexting" with his girlfriend (they are 15 and 16). After that incident we punished him via restriction from communications, grounded him for a time, had serious discussions with him about the ramifications of sexting, etc - we all (me, his mother and my wife) thought we had gotten through to him and his punishments had lapsed about a month ago.

Well, I found out that he did it again about a two weeks ago (I found irrefutable proof - so there is no doubt). I consulted with my wife, his mother, and MY mother before deciding on the punishment: he IS allowed to go on the NYC trip that is this weekend - mostly because it's a school function, he's a member of the chorus, AND it cost ME $500 - , but once he returns he's grounded for the next 4 weeks, and also no electronics or telephone through the end of the school year - unless he earns a reduced sentence somewhere between here and there.

Also want to mention here that we've followed up with the talk about the ramifications of sexting - he clearly "understands" the issue but had impulse control issues - hence the magnitude of the punishment (I know some will think it's not harsh enough, but what can you do. :-)

His mother and I took him to dinner and confronted him (which was actually suggested by my wife), showed him the evidence, and doled out the punishment.

So far so good - we all worked toward this end goal. It's this next part that I'm not sure about.

When my son and I got home he asked to call his girlfriend. After looking at him like "are you serious!?" he said that he wanted to call her and tell her he was going to be out of touch for the next several months (they don't go to the same school - so phone, email text is the only way they have to communicate). At that point I decided to let him talk to his girlfriend for 15 minutes to let her know he was grounded for an extended period of time.

I did not tell my wife in advance of that decision - but I did tell her as soon as I saw her which was about 5 minutes later and my son was about 5 minutes into his conversation.

And this is where things are falling apart all of sudden on me. My wife is extremely angry. She says that it was extremely disrespectful to not inform her of that decision before it was executed. That it undermines her authority in the house. That I "completely screwed her over" by not informing her of the decision. She says that I did not have to "check with her" or "ask permission", but simply let her know what was happening before making it a reality. She even said she probably would have agreed to it had we discussed it - but by not consulting her I haven't shown her the respect she deserves as my wife.

I'm a bit dumfounded. My view is that as an equal partner in the house, and my son's parent, I have the right to make a decision of this magnitude (allowing a 15 minute phone call) without prior notice or consultation with her. In fact, I feel strongly that we BOTH have that right. I trust that my wife would make a sane and logical decision and I would rarely have an issue if the roles were reversed ( the only exception I can think of is if her decision was in direct conflict with a prior decision of mine, but she'd be unlikely to override something she knew about so then I'd be more pissed at my boys for gaming the system than at her.)

In fact she HAS done this in the past giving the boys extra TV time, or even extending their telephone deadline when he was working late on a school paper - there was no consultation, but she knew I would be ok with her judgement and executed the decision on the spot.

So my question is - was I disrespectful? Was my making this decision beyond the bounds of "individual authority" as a parent and adult in the house? Did I step over a line here? Or this all about something else and I'm just not seeing it?

Thanks - BK


Follow-Up Postings:

 o
RE: was i disrespectful?

--"I consulted with my wife, his mother, and MY mother before deciding on the punishment"--

--"His mother and I took him to dinner and confronted him (which was actually suggested by my wife), showed him the evidence, and doled out the punishment".--

--"When my son and I got home he asked to call his girlfriend. After looking at him like "are you serious!?" he said that he wanted to call her and tell her he was going to be out of touch for the next several months (they don't go to the same school - so phone, email text is the only way they have to communicate). At that point I decided to let him talk to his girlfriend for 15 minutes to let her know he was grounded for an extended period of time...I did not tell my wife in advance of that decision - but I did tell her as soon as I saw her which was about 5 minutes later and my son was about 5 minutes into his conversation."--

--"So my question is - was I disrespectful? Was my making this decision beyond the bounds of "individual authority" as a parent and adult in the house? Did I step over a line here?"--

--" Or this all about something else and I'm just not seeing it?"--

Bingo!. Not sure what the 'something else' is, but in the example you have provided DW seems to want to have a double standard for her parenting authority vs yours. Do as I say not as I have done. It could simply be that with the house so stressed over the custody/visitation negotiating at play that she is being a bit too over sensitive and other thoughts and feelings/fear are what are motivating her current position on this issue.

Apologize with sincerity that you honestly would never try to deliberately jeopardize or undercut her authority figure role.

I actually would not have let the call be made. Punishment had already been dished out. The 'rules' had already been set and were in place. If son had questions and/or a special request to make one last call, he should have done so at the dinner of discussion and punishment time.

The teen is sexting females. Not only did he chose to disobey and blow you/mom/Sm a second time after initial punishment, he is being terribly foolish and disrespectful to this female (whether female realizes it or not). My personal feelings would have been no call. Perhaps it would have been best if this female had not been given any 'whys' and been given the chance to move on with no explaination. On the other hand, son could not call the girl during the initial four weeks...how did girl know why during that time? Did son use a different phone to keep in contact with her?

You have a much more serious problem with sexting going on here than in your example of a son being given a few more minutes on a tv type situation. I can rather understand as to why the DW did not consider and/or view them as similar incidents to be compared.


 o
RE: was i disrespectful?

I don't know, IS there something more going on here? Does your DW perhaps feel like there is a consistent pattern of everyone agreeing to certain punishments - and then you unilaterally modify or change the punishment?

I agree with justmetoo; punishment period had begun and if DS wanted to speak one last time with his GF he should have requested that earlier - so why didn't he? Why did he wait until he was alone with you before he made his request? Is it because you have a habit of, well, giving in to your son?

Even if you felt your son should have the ability to tell his GF that he was grounded "unless he earns a reduced sentence somewhere between here and there" (so there IS a precedent of punishments being reduced, I take it?) - why did he need to have a 15 minute conversation? It shouldn't take more than a few seconds to say "Sweetie, I got caught. I'm not allowed to talk to you until the end of the year. I love you, I'll call you then, goodbye." For that matter, you, your son's mother or your wife could have called the girl (or better yet, her parents) and explained the situation.

"In fact she HAS done this in the past giving the boys extra TV time, or even extending their telephone deadline when he was working late on a school paper - there was no consultation, but she knew I would be ok with her judgement and executed the decision on the spot. "

Really?! You're really going to compare your wife making an exception to an every day rule so that your son could work on a school paper to your modification of a punishment already in effect because your son committed a criminal act - twice.

I'm sure you are trying your best and I'm not trying to slam you - but you are not just sending a message to your son that you are a kind and understanding father (which you obviously are), but you are also sending a message that you are not a man of your word, that you can be talked into making exceptions, that if your son can convince you that rules don't apply to him (because of his "impulse control issues") then the rules don't apply to him.

You may not want to be harsh on your son, but there is no punishment that you can dole out to him that will be anywhere near as harsh as it will be if a DA decides to make an example of him, and he's saddled with a sex-offender tag for the rest of his life. Your son is close enough to eighteen to realize that actions can have serious consequences, and the court system is not going to care about impulse control issues, what a good boy he normally is, how the divorce may have affected him or anything else.

My vote goes for "something else".


 o
RE: was i disrespectful?

Interesting...I personally would allow a phone call in my presence so DD could inform he other person of a punishment. It does not have to be 15-minutes, 2 minutes is enough. Or as someone suggested even you could make that phone call to girl's parents. But I don't know...I don't have boys and never caught DD sexting, maybe she did, don't know.

It seems like your wife is a bit off base here and overreacting. But it could be something else that triggered it, not even that particular event. I know if I am overreacting to something my SO says or does it is usually triggered by some other patterns of his behavior rather that particular incident. Could be she is generally upset over something in your marriage and this is just the last straw.


 o
RE: was i disrespectful?

I can see why your wife was upset, but I do think she is overreacting a bit....unless you often change punishments. IT does sound like you were a team all the way up until this though which shows good communication.

As for the phone call, if it was allowed it should have been short and to the point. Something like "hello, just wanted to let you know I am grounded from my phone for 4 weeks because of the inappopriate pictures we sent. I will call you when I am ungrounded. Bye"

I think 15 minutes of phone call totally undermined the punishment.


 o
RE: was i disrespectful?

wow im not going to write alot in this post except - she seems to have gone a little over board. 15min to explain to his g/f that he will be out of touch is reasonable i think. he cant email her to let her know and you said they dont attend the same school. Sounds like maybe she had a bad day and got the brunt of it or something else is behind her anger....


 o Post a Follow-Up

Please Note: Only registered members are able to post messages to this forum.

    If you are a member, please log in.

    If you aren't yet a member, join now!


Return to the Stepfamily Forum

Information about Posting

  • You must be logged in to post a message. Once you are logged in, a posting window will appear at the bottom of the messages. If you are not a member, please register for an account.
  • Posting is a two-step process. Once you have composed your message, you will be taken to the preview page. You will then have a chance to review your post, make changes and upload photos.
  • After posting your message, you may need to refresh the forum page in order to see it.
  • Before posting copyrighted material, please read about Copyright and Fair Use.
  • We have a strict no-advertising policy!
  • If you would like to practice posting or uploading photos, please visit our Test forum.
  • If you need assistance, please Contact Us and we will be happy to help.


Learn more about in-text links on this page here