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Do I have any recourse at all?? Please help!!

Posted by saberad (My Page) on
Tue, Nov 9, 10 at 22:01

Here is my situation. I'm the stepfather to my wife's kids. Her ex has given us nothing but problems from calling Child Protection services on me to now recently threatening to call the police on me if I touch his son in any way shape or form. My wife's son has anger issues where he has literally fits or outburst of rage/hate however you want to describe it where he goes off and slams doors throws stuff around in the room when he gets reprimanded for doing wrong. Our most recent episode of this was a weekend where my wife got on to the son for having his knees in the couch (probably the 5 or 6 time he's been told) and he pretty much scowls at her and makes this whine noise (uhhh)like leave me alone and doesn't do anything. So she then slaps him and tells him not to disrespect her. Next thing I know my wife and her son are wrestling from what I see and he hauls off and hits her. I don't know about you all but I was raised up on you never hit your mother. That's like sacraligious its just the biggest no-no ever in my opinion. I never hit my SS but I did hold his head to look at me since he refused to do so after asking him over 3x's and pretty much yell at him "Don't ever hit your mother!!" Anyway to make a long story short her ex is now threatening me about calling police if I touch his son ever again. Pretty much ignored the fact that his son just hit his own mother. My wife and I both agree he needs counseling but the BF refuses to do so stating that he doesn't ever have these problems at his house. Which is a load of crap I think. The guidance counselors along with the schools vice principal recommended the child receive counseling and anger management sessions. I'm at my wits end anymore because we don't know what to do. I don't want my SS around anymore. I think he is a danger to not only my wife but my own Bio Son who is only 2!! I don't want to put my wife in a position to have to chose or anything. They have gone to mitigation twice already but the Ex never follows the parenting plan or follows the addendum to there divorce. Both parents are to have equal say in the upbringing of the kids but the ex pretty much does what he feels and never lets my wife know. I know I'm not the biological parent but the things he does just isn't right. He pretty much walks all over my wife and does as he pleases.
Please any advice or help would be greatly appreciated.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Do I have any recourse at all?? Please help!!

I think your wife should be the one who does the discipline. Secondly, she needs not to slap him or such. As punishment, just take away his priviledges (computer, cell phone, allowances, TV times). She was the adult in the incidence as you described, and as the adult she should not engaged in physical wrestling w him.

Perhaps your wife is part of the problem as well as she lets the xh does what he wants. She needst to stand up for herself and her kid, and not asking you be the barking dog. This is not your battle.

THe more you get involved, the more you will be set up for disappoinment because you literally have no control all the other parties involved.


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RE: Do I have any recourse at all?? Please help!!

I'm not one of those parents who will say there is never a time to swat your kid on the butt, but I have to call foul here. You are upset because your SS reacted with violence when he didn't get a response he liked, but what did your wife do when she received a response she didn't like? Yeah, she responded with violence. Children learn by example. I would start with setting a good one.


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RE: Do I have any recourse at all?? Please help!!

So what would you have done when your child pretty much blows you off and ignores what you say? Not to mention its the 5th or 6th time you have been told that day? Back when I grew up you didn't disrespect your parents you listened and did as you where told. Maybe my upbringing was more strict than most kids these days. However, when your asked to do something and you ignore it, thats disrespectful.


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RE: Do I have any recourse at all?? Please help!!

It doesn't say how old the child but what do you expect a child to do? Mom demonstrated that violence is how she deals with the situation. Either she lost control & slapped him or she believes slapping is acceptable discipline. If the child believes hitting/wrestling back is acceptable, it leads me to believe he has been raised thus far being hit out of anger. I agree with JNM that sometimes a swat on the butt is appropriate, but in a heated situation.. it becomes striking out in anger & that is domestic violence. If the child refused to look at you, that does not give you the right to put your hands on him. I'd disagree with the father in that it's not something CPS is called for, however the ENTIRE incident with MOM is alarming & depending on the child's age, CPS may consider that domestic violence. I think mom could have handled it better & if that's how she deals with her children, she may want to take parenting classes and/or get counseling for herself, especially if she has a 2 year old now. If the child has anger management issues & mom cannot control herself during a disagreement & it becomes a physical altercation, that isn't a problem brought on by dad's house. If dad's house is more structured, then maybe the child does not have the same problems at his house. When my SD was 6-7, BM said she was a wild hair & wanted her on medication... she was constantly saying SD was disruptive & would not listen to her, etc. At our house, we had rules we enforced consistently, we had a schedule & clear expectations... we did not have any problem with SD's behavior the way BM did. So, I know it's possible that his dad may not have the same problems at his house.


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RE: Do I have any recourse at all?? Please help!!

"So what would you have done when your child pretty much blows you off and ignores what you say? Not to mention its the 5th or 6th time you have been told that day? Back when I grew up you didn't disrespect your parents you listened and did as you where told. Maybe my upbringing was more strict than most kids these days. However, when your asked to do something and you ignore it, thats disrespectful."

I totally agree with you. I was raised to respect my parents. But I was raised that way from day 1. Your stepson apparently has & is being raised differently than you or I were. Your wife has not taught her son to respect her and slapping him because he doesn't do what she says is not going to create that kind of respect. She may get fear or rebellion... neither is good for the parent or child.


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RE: Do I have any recourse at all?? Please help!!

I do not think your wife should have slapped your SS. I am assuming this means in the face?

How old is he?

CPS will tell you that spanking is okay--on the butt, as long as there are no marks/bruises. Whether we agree or disagree, the bottom (haha, no pun intended!) is that spanking is *legal.*

But it sounds like your wife hauled off and slapped him in the face which, to me, is abusive. Plain and simple. NEVER HIT A CHILD (or teen) IN THE FACE. That is degrading and insulting and I think it's an angry, out of control reaction.

I am not aruging that your SS may be disrespectful or defiant. But I think when your wife responds in that manner---out of control herself---she's setting a BAD example.

I agree that she may need to take some parenting classes, and I also think YOU should not be touching your SS. Grabbing his head to force him to look at you is unacceptable. If for your own protection legally, as well, DO NOT TOUCH HIM. At all.

I understand the urge to protect your wife, but this is HER son and she needs to handle him. If he's violent with her, then call the police.


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RE: Do I have any recourse at all?? Please help!!

"So she then slaps him and tells him not to disrespect her....the Ex never follows the parenting plan"

What an unusual parenting plan they have, where the consequences for putting his knees on the couch are to be slapped. I've not seen a parenting plan like that before.

Perhaps SS was disrespectful to his mother because he does not respect her. I tend to not respect people who resort to violence either. Or was she having an "outburst or fit of rage", you know, the kind that are so appalling when SS is slamming doors and/or throwing things around his room?


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RE: Do I have any recourse at all?? Please help!!

I understand your frustration, Saberad, and as a custodial stepparent I know how difficult it can be sometimes to know where the boundaries are when it comes to your stepchildren. But please hear me, and the other people who've given you advice on this page. It is NEVER okay to hit a child. And, as frustrating as it may be to deal with the EX and his threats of calling CPS and the police, you cannot lay a hand on that child unless he is in danger of truly hurting himself or someone else - and then, it should only be to restrain him.

Most of us here have probably been raised much differently, ie. we had respect for our parents and a fear of being punished if we crossed the line. Children today don't have those fears and the law looks very differently at how we discipline our children. You should be careful how you react to your SS. If it gets to be too much, just walk away and let your wife handle it -- unless, there's a danger that he might hurt her. If the SS has anger issues, he should get counseling for that -- in fact, family counseling sounds like it would benefit your whole family. You have a 2 year old -- do you want him growing up with the same anger that seems to be surfacing with SS, your wife, and perhaps yourself?


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RE: Do I have any recourse at all?? Please help!!

"Children today don't have those fears and the law looks very differently at how we discipline our children."

This is exactly my point. This isn't the first time things like this have happened. Let me clear a few things up here because I think some of you are thinking my wife totally slapped her son in the face which isn't the case. First of all my stepson is 10yrs old. She popped him in the mouth in a sense to "you better watch your tone" hits like my mother did when I was little if I had said something wrong or mouthed back to her.

Granted I do agree she shouldn't have continued or pressed the issue further. BM has made it very clear to the BF and myself both that she can not handle him physically when he gets like this.

I partly blame the BF because I feel that what he has done is made the impression that the kids don't have to due or listen to what I say. After this last weekend I think its made it pretty obvious that the kids don't have to listen to jack I say because BF will call the cops or CPF. So guess I'm screwed either way you look at it.

I appreciate the posts and have read others on this site. Hopefully the BF and BM will come to terms on things and start getting the child help. /shrug


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RE: Do I have any recourse at all?? Please help!!

I once sat next at the dentist to a young boy who had been 'popped' in the mouth by a parent. Her ring hit the kid's mouth (I will assume by accident during the 'pop')and there kid sat with a split lip and a chipped tooth.

I don't think it was stated in posting as to where the SS resides primarily. Was this during a weekend visitation? It might be best if vistations are either put on hold or done in very public places until counseling can be obtained.

Your in a bad situation and I'd bet it is going to get worse unless the entire issue/s are addressed. Plan A isn't working, look into plan B & C.


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RE: Do I have any recourse at all?? Please help!!

I have only been a stepmom for just over a year. I understand what it feels like to have kids not respect you or your household. I get that. I have SS that just turned 11, SD14 and SD that jsut tuned 13 last week. Believe me that can get my pulse rate up.
I ask my Skids to do things, sometimes they refuse or get mouthy about it. Thats when my DH comes in and tells them and makes them if he has to. I do NOT touch them. I am not the one that takes things away, or decides punishment at all. If my DH ask my opinion the I give it otherwise I stay out of it. They are his kids, he is the one that has to deal with them.
My husband has had to spank them a few times that I have seen. They are getting too old to spank so he usually just takes their stuff away from them. Believe me their ipod touch being taken away is more punishment than anything. He has to get their attention sometimes but never has he just popped them in the mouth. I am sure he has wanted to, for that matter I have wanted to sometimes when they are talking ugly to me. BUT we DONT, their mother does not either. My Skids do not have to respect me personally but they do have to listen when I ask them to make their bed or pick up after themselves. If he sees them not listening he takes over. My DH makes them respect our house and our things.
Maybe this child has not been shown how to respect his mother and therefore he can even begin to respect you.. Is sounds to me like their is more violence going on then actual disipline with your SS.

"So she then slaps him and tells him not to disrespect her."
Its my opinion that slapping a child does not teach them to repect the parent. Consider a parenting class. They have alot of great tools that could help your family.


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RE: Do I have any recourse at all?? Please help!!

As a step-parent myself I can genuinely relate to your frustration! I also know that you are not in a position to change the dynamic between your SS and your wife. They are going to have to learn to relate to one another in a calmer, more respectful manner. I will not "preach" to you about your wife and how SHE should handle her son. Since it is YOU looking for advice on how to interact and deal with your SS I would say tread very carefully. Once these kids know they have the "power" to totally upset your lives with one phone call, they will. Every chance they get. My own SS lied, constantly. Told his father I yelled at him when he wasn't around. Absolute fabrications. I got to the point where I didn't even speak to him unless there were witnesses there. You absolutely cannot protect yourself from a liar and manipulator. They know no boundaries. My advice to you is to let your wife deal with it, all of it. And his father too. Nothing good can come of a war between all of the adults in your SS life. He may THINK that is what he wants, but he will lose in the end. No child benefits from the arguing. It's so easy for me to say that his anger is a cry for attention, even help. But when you are in the moment and your buttons are pushed it's hard to see them as an innocent. When he starts the tantrums, get up and leave the room. Period. I have been there with my own child and it was easier for me to deal with my child one on one than have my husband get involved, it just complicated things and quite often put me in a position to choose sides. Making matters worse! Good luck! I've been on both sides of that coin, and it's HARD!


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RE: Do I have any recourse at all?? Please help!!

"Once these kids know they have the "power" to totally upset your lives with one phone call, they will. Every chance they get. My own SS lied, constantly. Told his father I yelled at him when he wasn't around. Absolute fabrications. I got to the point where I didn't even speak to him unless there were witnesses there. You absolutely cannot protect yourself from a liar and manipulator. They know no boundaries. My advice to you is to let your wife deal with it, all of it. And his father too."

I couldn't agree with this more. Let the parents deal with him 100% because when you have a parent that is looking for anything to complain about, that is a no win situation for everyone... including the father that is complaining because ultimately, it's his son that he is hurting with his ignorance.


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RE: Do I have any recourse at all?? Please help!!

I think mom and stepdad need anger management class more than the kid does,

Also explain to me anyone, why can't kids have their knees on the couch?

I don't know maybe dad is overdoing it, but if my ex slapped DD on the face and SM grabbed her face in her hands (or touched her in any other ways except giving her a casual hug), i would immediately file for full custody, supervised visitations in a public place or no visitations.


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RE: Do I have any recourse at all?? Please help!!

Parent of One, I agree with you 100%.

Perhaps I am completely misinterpreting the situation, but with the information as posted, it sounds exactly like what DH and I fear. It's happened in the past where BM will meet a new man who actually likes kids and will suddenly start participating in activities with SS when her latest BF is around. BM will tell new BF a sob story about how DH, the courts and the judge all conspired against her, and since BF is not seeing any poor parenting behavior on her part, it appears to him that her story is true. Meanwhile, SS was confused by and skeptical of these dramatic changes in behavior towards him.

What would happen in a few years if this happens again? SS already is not willing to pretend that all is blissful happiness for the sake of outsiders. If BM were to meet a new man and suddenly change, again, I really don't think SS would play along anymore. And to the new BF, who was assuming that she was actually a good parent because she appeared so when he was around, it would seem that SS was very troubled, and possibly disrespectful, because to the BF SS's behavior in response to BM's actions would seem inappropriate. To someone who knew the entire history they would be a completely normal reaction to realizing that they were being used as a pawn in BM's game to impress her BF.

saberad, I'm not saying that this is the case with you all. But it sounded to me as well like your wife has weekend visitations and Dad had primary custody, your wife is slapping a ten year old...what's going on over there?

I agree strongly that everyone needs counseling.


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RE: Do I have any recourse at all?? Please help!!

"I think mom and stepdad need anger management class more than the kid does, "

Exactly. Problems run deep around here, as illustrated by the parental 'discipline' tactics of 'popping' a kid in the mouth and resorting to physical force to restrain a child.

There are better ways to gain compliance and respect -- MUCH better ways. And both of you (Dad and SM too) need to learn them and put them into consistent practice.

The book "How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk" was a fabulous resource when dealing with resentful and manipulative kids. (My Ex. told our son he didn't have to listen to StepDad and even encouraged him to disobey and lie to me on rules Dad didn't agree with. Caused some problems as you can imagine...) Anyway -- the books tactics were calm, respectful, reasonable, and best of all -- very, very effective.

While I understand the advice to back out and let your wife handle it --- Well, sorry, but she's not up to it. Her tactics aren't working, and losing your support will make them even less effective. Yeah, the directions should come from her -- but she appears to need an 'enforcer' until SS gets the hang of listening. And that enforcement should take the form of CALM, non-angry (but also non-negotiable) action.

Here is a link that might be useful: How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk


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