3
   

When is enough, enough?!

 
 
Reply Fri 27 Apr, 2012 06:27 pm
I married a woman who has 4 kids. We dated for 4 years before wedding. The oldest child was out of the house, on his own. The other kids were well behaved, well groomed and did well in school.
Fast forward ten years.
I feel that I am trapped in a sort of step-dad gag syndrome.
Mom does not seem to want to discipline the kids. The next to the oldest became so disrespectful, I wanted to throw him out of the house. The two youngest have maintained good grades, but they have been getting in trouble that ranges from smoking weed to shoplifting. They have no relationship with their father (who's a bum) and my wife will not toughen up. The oldest is now sleeping on my couch. After dropping out of school, running up tickets on a car his mother bought for him, hangin out saggin and not looking for work, I made it so uncomfortable for the next to oldest that he joined the military.
Now that the two youngest are getting in trouble, I feel it is time to exercise tough love. My wife coddles and protects them. She instead gets on my case when I enforce tough-love tactics.
I feel alone.
 
panzade
 
  1  
Reply Sat 28 Apr, 2012 02:02 am
@nqyringmind,
You are alone. I went through the same scenario.
You only have 2 choices.
Let her take the lead on their upbringing...(forget tough love)
or leave
vikorr
 
  1  
Reply Sun 29 Apr, 2012 04:50 am
@panzade,
That isn't the only two options.

I think you need to discuss with her what the two of you expect from your children, and what values you want your children to grow up with.

If you can't come to an agreement about what is acceptable behaviour / what values you want to instill in them - then you have a problem.

But, if you do agree on what is acceptable, but you are both going about trying to achieve that in different ways - then you have something that you can work with. If you don't know how to do that, then that is when you might want to see a counsellor.

But in either case - have you thought of buying some books relating to the difficulties that you are facing? Amazon has a really good search engine for that sort of thing (because it has a 'people who bought this also bought...' , and because of the extensive customer reviews)
panzade
 
  2  
Reply Sun 29 Apr, 2012 10:02 am
@vikorr,
Quote:
That isn't the only two options


Of course not...I'm a little bitter.

Quote:
I think you need to discuss with her what the two of you expect from your children, and what values you want your children to grow up with.


OOPS! It's a little too late. After 10 years of marriage it's not much use closing the barn door...the cows are gone.

The bad news here is that after 10 years of Mom's nurturing(coddling) there's no way the two youngest are gonna accept tough love from a man who isn't even their father.
Those kids will throw you under the bus in a minute to keep you out of the hierarchy.
By all means, do as vikorr says. Rush to counseling. But if wifey won't yield the helm a bit in the parenting department...you'd better run.

CalamityJane
 
  1  
Reply Sun 29 Apr, 2012 10:11 am
@nqyringmind,
What happened? You said that when you married the kids were well behaved, well groomed and did good in school. So within those 10 years you've been with your wife and the kids, they turned into little devils?

Well, it seems when they're smoking weed and getting speeding tickets, they're too old to reprimand. All you can do is establish house rules i.e.
no smoking in your house and if they do anything illegal (drugs, shoplifting)
they're out the door. Stick with it and enforce when necessary. If your
wife isn't backing you up in this, you have to re-consider your life choices.
Good luck!

0 Replies
 
vikorr
 
  1  
Reply Sun 29 Apr, 2012 05:04 pm
@panzade,
Quote:
OOPS! It's a little too late. After 10 years of marriage it's not much use closing the barn door...the cows are gone.

For some it's too late, for some it's not.

Quote:
The bad news here is that after 10 years of Mom's nurturing(coddling) there's no way the two youngest are gonna accept tough love from a man who isn't even their father.
While the OP mentioned tough love - 'tough love' isn't the sole way to deal with this. There are many ways to deal with immaturity, manipulators, and bludgers.

Quote:
By all means, do as vikorr says. Rush to counseling. But if wifey won't yield the helm a bit in the parenting department...you'd better run.
Really, is this all I said? Go to counselling?

'Running' may be a legitimate option, but that certainly doesn't mean that he shouldn't try every avenue first.

For the most part - he needs to update his knowledge, awareness, and skills regarding what is happening, and how to deal with it.

FOUND SOUL
 
  1  
Reply Sun 29 Apr, 2012 05:15 pm
@nqyringmind,
When you dated for 4 years, and prior to marrying her, you were around those children for 4 years, they were well behaved, well groomed and did well at school.. Suggests that they liked having a father figure around, 4 years is a long time to be well behaved..

6 years later you feel that you are trapped in a "step-dad gag syndrome". Does this mean that whilst the 3 were little enough it was fine to assume the role of step-dad, but now that they are teenagers or older, you don't wish to play step dad?

If that is the case, I can see why they are rebelling.. If you feel "trapped" being their step-dad.

Maybe simple words like - love and togetherness as a "family" will bring things together more.

I personally feel that your way of dealing with the kids, making them run from home, away from you shows that they don't feel any warmth from you at all..

There is tough love and then, there is love.
0 Replies
 
PUNKEY
 
  2  
Reply Sun 29 Apr, 2012 05:23 pm
What happened?? Those well behaved good students turned into TEENAGERS!!

Insist you and your wife go to counseling to learn how to parent teens BEFORE they wreck your marriage.
0 Replies
 
panzade
 
  1  
Reply Mon 30 Apr, 2012 06:10 am
@vikorr,
I won't quibble with you; you're a thoughtful and sensitive poster.
I have a darker take on this having gone through the very same situation. Therefore I will recuse myself from this topic.
nqyringmind
 
  2  
Reply Mon 30 Apr, 2012 10:22 am
Though I sincerely appreciate all replies, some perplex me.
Clarification: The two youngest were 4 and 6 when I first met their mother. The next oldest was 13. We all got along fine, (which is why I felt comfortable with marrying a woman with four kids)
We played board games, had family night, spent weekends going places and doing things...exposing the kids to the world outside of their own community.
We watched movies together and often just talked and laughed.
They have cousins, a grandmother, uncles, aunts and a dad who offer no support and couldn't tell you a thing about them other than their age and what they look like.
I had many discussions with my wife prior to the youngest entering their teen years. I underscored how important it was to tighten the reigns. I felt it was important to make them earn the privileges they received...to help them understand the value of things. To the contrary, my wife has always showered them with whatever they want. It is as if she does not want them to feel any discomfort or face any challenges without her being there to sooth them. I feel that they are and will be ill prepared for life in the real world, which is likely why the oldest is sleeping on my couch right now.
With all of the children, I first tried positive reinforcement. I rewarded them for the things they did that deserved recognition and showed initiative. I talked with them and implored them to come to me with any issues or questions (especially the boys) that maybe they did not feel comfortable addressing with their mom. Over time, positive reinforcement, heart-to-heart conversations, firm and serious talks, taking away privileges...all have been circumvented.
They run to mom and she comes to the rescue. I'm the bad guy.
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Mon 30 Apr, 2012 11:11 am
@nqyringmind,
It sounds to me like you have an overly authoritarian parenting style, and your wife has an overly permissive parenting style. Those are problems in and of themselves, but it's compounded when you're co-parenting and undermining each other.

This probably wasn't as much of an issue when the kids were younger and there wasn't as much reason for conflict. But there's gonna be conflict when the kids hit the teenaged years, pretty much inevitably. And it seems like your parenting styles just didn't work well for that.

Have you tried any sort of family therapy?
nqyringmind
 
  1  
Reply Mon 30 Apr, 2012 11:48 am
@sozobe,
I guess one might call it overly authoritarian. Others might call it old school.
The bottom line is I believe that if talking and less "authoritarian" approaches are not working, something needs to happen to make the kids understand the impact their behaviors have their loved ones and ultimately on them. They need to know that when they do wrong there are penalties. I believe that otherwise they feel no consequence and will not be deterred.
CalamityJane
 
  1  
Reply Mon 30 Apr, 2012 02:58 pm
@nqyringmind,
Let me ask you another question: doesn't you wife see anything wrong now?
I mean the kids get in trouble with smoking, weed and shoplifting - what is her take on this?
0 Replies
 
DrewDad
 
  3  
Reply Mon 30 Apr, 2012 03:12 pm
@nqyringmind,
Kids will find any weakness and exploit it. "Good cop/Bad cop" does not work with parenting.

If your co-parent won't back you up, it leaves little room for you to maneuver.

It's not going to do any good to be tough if the mom undermines you when you do so.

You and your partner have to present a united front, so you and she have to work together to figure out what that's going to be.
0 Replies
 
vikorr
 
  1  
Reply Mon 30 Apr, 2012 03:31 pm
@panzade,
Quote:
I won't quibble with you; you're a thoughtful and sensitive poster.
I have a darker take on this having gone through the very same situation. Therefore I will recuse myself from this topic
Hi Panzade - I'm sorry to hear that you went through such an experience. I can see how you came to your thoughts.

The reason I posted what I did, is that what you experienced is a possibility that really does need to be considered...but we also need to consider that everyone is different...the OP isn't you, and his wife isn't your wife. What you experienced 'could' happen, but in the separate case of the OP & his Wife, so too could a path through the middle to work things out for the both of them & the kids. It'd be a rough ride in any event Smile
0 Replies
 
vikorr
 
  3  
Reply Mon 30 Apr, 2012 03:45 pm
@sozobe,
Quote:
It sounds to me like you have an overly authoritarian parenting style, and your wife has an overly permissive parenting style. Those are problems in and of themselves, but it's compounded when you're co-parenting and undermining each other.

Umm...wow, I couldn't disagree more with the red.

To my way of thinking (if the OP has been accurate, and revealed all the relevant information) the mother bares the brunt of the responsibility for the problems in her teenage children. Children need a combination of both love & discipline - which the OP showed a willingness to do.

I think one of the problems was that the parents never discussed what values they wanted to teach their children, and how to teach them those values.

I had a plethora of boundaries growing up, got the belt a few times, got a stick once (all only when I was around 5-7 years of age, which many people would consider abusive these days, but it was not - I am exceptionally glad for having been corrected early). They also talked to me about right & wrong from a very young age, respecting your elders (anyone older, not just relatives). By the time I was a teenager I didn't 'need' to rebel - I knew what was right & wrong, and how I wanted to conduct my life. The discipline never bothered me because my parents also gave me so much of their time, and very obviously loved me.

My parents had 6 children. Only one turned was rebellious in her teenage years. Everyone of us is respectful of others Smile

Now, I'm not using that for any other purpose other than to say - from what was described, I liked the OP's MO, and I didn't find it in the least 'overly authoritarian'. It seemed a rather balanced approach to me - authority, direction, and love.
FOUND SOUL
 
  1  
Reply Mon 30 Apr, 2012 04:42 pm
@nqyringmind,
Quote:
I guess one might call it overly authoritarian. Others might call it old school.The bottom line is I believe that if talking and less "authoritarian" approaches are not working, something needs to happen to make the kids understand the impact their behaviors have their loved ones and ultimately on them. They need to know that when they do wrong there are penalties. I believe that otherwise they feel no consequence and will not be deterred.


Seems the OP agrees with her. In any event, this is difficult because when you marry someone with children, you both have to discuss exactly how both of you feel you should bring those children up.. Being a "Step" Parent, is hard, I think you more so have to be a "friend" in one way and Father the next.. The mixture in getting those ingredients is difficult, as they will always view their Mother as their real parent, in your case. Being authoritarian or old school totally, without that friend mixture, regardless of your words to them that they can come to you, didn't work, hasn't worked.

I appreciate that your wife is too soft on them.. You both need to sit down and nut this out, she has to toughen up a bit and you have to ease up a bit.. IMO children respond to "understanding" they don't respond to military rules only in todays age...

Let me ask you, do you sit down and discuss their day, do you all eat at the same table at night, have you helped them with homework, do you know what music any of them like, their favourite colour, crushes, dreams, goals.. What honestly do you know about these kids.
nqyringmind
 
  1  
Reply Mon 30 Apr, 2012 04:50 pm
@vikorr,
Thank you vikorr. I think your parents and mine shared very similar child-rearing philosophies.
Calamaty: Therein lies the problem.
Drew: "Ding...ding...ding..." 100%!!!
nqyringmind
 
  3  
Reply Mon 30 Apr, 2012 05:14 pm
@FOUND SOUL,
Thank you Found Soul for your honest input.
I must admit I knew more 2-3 years ago. As they have both become teens, there is a widening communication and relationship gap.
I would love to continue with family night. I would love to sit around the table and play board games or just sit and talk about school, movies, aspirations, etc.
If it were up to me, the kids would not be allowed to take dinner to the rooms to eat. I'm the bad guy when I try to enforce rules or encourage better habits.
Again, my wife allows them to do what they want and argues with me if I try to convince her otherwise.
We dated six months before I met the kids. During the four years we dated before marriage, these issues did not exist. If there were hints, I did not see them because we were not under the same roof.
I know that kids tend to get full of themselves at ages 13-18, and I tried to reach out to others that they might listen to once I discovered that mom was going to be a challenge in the discipline department.
Uncles, cousins, grandma...etc, to no avail.
Yes, I attended all sports and school activities, help with homework, check school-loop for progress reports...I could go on.
I don't know where the whole "military rules" idea comes from, but it's not that way in the least.
vikorr
 
  1  
Reply Mon 30 Apr, 2012 05:20 pm
@nqyringmind,
Apparently so.

Still - that isn't the reality you are faced with now...which is a rather different kettle of fish - which is why I suggest you buy some books related tot he subject.

I doubt you'll be able to get enough information from a forum to be able to increase your awareness of the multiple issues present to a level high enough to navigate your way through this effectively...hence I would suggest reading up on the subject through a few books.

Awareness of how & why things are as they are, and awareness of how your actions trigger their reactions (and visa versa) is the biggest issue in dealing this with situation. And certainly if don't possess a high enough level of awareness - you will never be able to effectively explain the consequences of : parenting style, discipline choices, conflicting messages, action & reaction, etc. to a person who obviously believes her parenting style is the best.

There's any number of books on Parenting teenagers.
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