Ds and Dh can't stop fighting - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 11 Old 03-20-2012, 03:12 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Some History:

I left my son's bio-dad when I was 5 months pregnant, and he hasn't been in our lives since.

We met my current and most awesome husband when my son was almost 2yo.

My son (9) refers to dh as "my dad", but uses his name when speaking to him.

I am, for all practical purposes, the boss and final decision-maker in my house.

 

 

The Issue:

They started getting into pretty intense arguments about a year ago. Ds does get very rude and disrespectful. Dh says things he shouldn't that make his love sound conditional. Ds loses his temper too quickly. I see them equally right in why they get upset, and equally guilty of not dealing with it the right way. But, at the end of the day, dh is the adult and I have to side with ds.

 

It got really bad a month ago and I took an extreme measure by basically separating them for a week. They couldn't be in the same room or speak directly to  each other. This meant that I was having two dinners (so that neither would eat alone - since it's just the 3 of us). It did work in that it was a sad week, they missed each other, and were did much better at not fighting over the following week, but it didn't last long.

 

I have said to both of them that I will not live amidst fighting, and that I rather we live apart than live with all this yelling and drama, and I mean it. Dh is a wonderful guy and we are best friends. My son is an amazing boy. I don't understand why they can't try harder to get along. They push each other's buttons and explode so quickly that there's often not enough time to stop it before it gets to tears.

 

 

I get angry with dh because sometimes he really could just let go and not make it escalate into a fight.

He is quick to recognize his mistakes, but he's not very good at preventing them.

 

I know I haven't let him completely be DAD, and that if I had maybe this wouldn't be happening.

Would this be different if he was the biological dad?

 

What do I do now?


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#2 of 11 Old 03-20-2012, 04:37 PM
 
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i dont have too much to offer you in the way of advice - but i wanted to say  i have a little bit of a similar situation here.  My DH stepped in when DD was 10 and DS  was 7 - he and DS have always gotten along SO WELL - but not him and DD.  Lately it seems he cant even find a kind word to say to her - (she is 16 now and can be a bit trying at times!) 

i think the blame lies squarely with the DH's - they are the adults - they have to learn to hold their tongues, and walk away when its appropriate - its not about winning, its not about getting your way, its not about 'being heard'  - its about being a parent and a role model.


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#3 of 11 Old 03-21-2012, 10:57 AM
 
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I agree with motherhendoula, it is your DH's responsibility to act like the adult. DS is going to push buttons, he's nine. It would help your DS to see your DH deal with this in a calm manner and be "grown up about it." If your DH knows and recognizes that what he is doing is wrong or inappropriate, he should change his behavior as an example for your DS. I am guessing that it has been pretty hard, especially since you took steps to separate them for a week. But that is the last thing I would do. As a family you have to learn how to deal with each other on a daily basis through the good and the bad.

 

What about your DS's biological dad? Is he in the picture or recently come back into it? Is there some reason your DS may just be all around tense? 

 

I am sorry you have to deal with this, mama. 


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#4 of 11 Old 03-21-2012, 02:48 PM
 
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Based solely on what you've written, I think this one might be on you, mama. If you act as the head of the household and the only "real" parent, then you can't expect the other adult to function on your level. In order to have an equal partner, you need to be an equal partner. 

 

Without saying anything to your DS, I'd try modifying the way you treat your DH. Talk about this with him in private. Work together on ways that he can take a more active role in parenting the child he's lived with for 7 years. Your DS has a biodad out there somewhere, but his father is married to you and lives in your house, and you need to acknowledge that on every level. When your DH disciplines, you need to back him up (if what he's proposing is remotely reasonable). When your DS speaks disrespectfully to him, you need to be proactive with the "don't talk to your father that way" spiel. 

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#5 of 11 Old 03-22-2012, 06:16 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Smithie View Post

When your DH disciplines, you need to back him up (if what he's proposing is remotely reasonable). When your DS speaks disrespectfully to him, you need to be proactive with the "don't talk to your father that way" spiel. 

 


 

This is the one that is hard for me. I'm so afraid of my son feeling like we're ganging up on him. I've even told my dh NOT to back me up for this reason.

 

I had a horrible step-mother when I was his age, who I thankfully didn't have to live with. But my fears are irrational because my dh is nothing like her.

 

But there's no comparison. Dh is, for the most part, a great dad. And you're right Smithie.

I think I posted this because I needed to hear it.

 

Because I didn't grow up in a house with 2 parents (it was just me and my mom) I have NO idea what that's like and how the dynamics work.

 

Thanks for your help mamas. It looks like I need more than I thought I did.


 


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#6 of 11 Old 03-22-2012, 07:12 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rebeleducation View Post


 

This is the one that is hard for me. I'm so afraid of my son feeling like we're ganging up on him. I've even told my dh NOT to back me up for this reason.

 

I had a horrible step-mother when I was his age, who I thankfully didn't have to live with. But my fears are irrational because my dh is nothing like her.

 

But there's no comparison. Dh is, for the most part, a great dad. And you're right Smithie.

I think I posted this because I needed to hear it.

 

Because I didn't grow up in a house with 2 parents (it was just me and my mom) I have NO idea what that's like and how the dynamics work.

 

Thanks for your help mamas. It looks like I need more than I thought I did.


 



You don't have to gang up on him. Just make him aware that the parent doing the discipline at the moment has the other parents support.

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#7 of 11 Old 03-22-2012, 10:51 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rebeleducation View Post


 

This is the one that is hard for me. I'm so afraid of my son feeling like we're ganging up on him. I've even told my dh NOT to back me up for this reason.

 

 


 


I am sorry you are having a hard time hug2.gif

 

We have a similar dynamic to you (minus any step issues) but reversed:  I am the the one who calls DD (age 13) on her behaviour, and DH does nothing for fear of coming across as "ganging up on her".  I think I have some insight into how your partner might feel - it could be usefull to talk to him about it.

 

 DD has a number of issues (she has a number of great qualities, too, but this post is not about that).  She can be rigid, demanding, uncompromising, stubborn, mean and never admits she is wrong (even when she is very, very clearly wrong). I believe it is my job as her mother to help her work on her issues - particularly when those issues cause her to disrespect others.  Dh does not address those issues, as he believes I do an adequate job of it and does not want her to feel "ganged up on".

 

Here is the result of above dynamic:

 

1.  I am the evil *itch and daddy is all nice and reasonable.

2.  She is nicer to him and wants to spend more time with him than me. I get this, but it still hurts.  Daddy gets to be the preferred parent because he leaves all the disciplining to me.  

3.  I feel very, very lonely in parenting her.  I do not have a partner in helping me to address some long standing issues.

4.  I suspect DD feels that I am just a strict meanie.  She does not listen to what I have to say - how valid is it when the other adult in the house won't discuss an issue unless he is dragged kicking and screaming into a conversation?  In her mind she has no issues - it is all my perception. 

 

I know you are frustrated with your DP, but I do not doubt he is very frustrated by you, as well.  Both parents (and he is a parent) need to step up to the plate or it leads to resentment, frustration and an unhealthy environment for all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

.

 

 

 

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#8 of 11 Old 03-22-2012, 12:51 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kathymuggle View Post

She can be rigid, demanding, uncompromising, stubborn, mean and never admits she is wrong (even when she is very, very clearly wrong).

 

 



Oh my... these are almost the exact same things my dh says...

 

I definitely don't want him to be the "mean" parent, on the contrary, I really need to know that my son would be okay with him if something ever happened to me.


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#9 of 11 Old 03-22-2012, 03:24 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rebeleducation View Post



Oh my... these are almost the exact same things my dh says...

 

I definitely don't want him to be the "mean" parent, on the contrary, I really need to know that my son would be okay with him if something ever happened to me.



It is hard to say - but I think there is a possibility they would work it out if something happenned to you.

 

This is pure specualtion - but part of the reason he seems so hard now might be because (even subconsciouisly) he feels he needs to take on the role of a firm disciplinarian to conteract your softness.

 

I could be completely wrong, but you say your partner is a good man - you should cling to that.  It is sometimes easier to work things out in a duo rather than a trio.

 

Sending you (and myself, lol) wisdom vibes on how best to handle the situation.

 

 

 

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#10 of 11 Old 03-22-2012, 03:47 PM
 
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Your son isn't going to respect your husband as a parent until YOU accept him as one. 

 

If there is a parenting class or counseling, or even a parenting book that you both feel fits your parenting philosophy, it might be useful for you to both be playing from the same playbook. I think a parenting class or a counselor would be great because it would give you some professional guidance when you interpret something differently or you don't think the other is following the "rules" you've agreed to. 

My husband and I don't always parent the same way. Sometimes when I disagree with a decision he makes, I have to hold my tongue and walk out of the room so I don't jump in and override him or reprimand him in front of the kids. Then we can talk about it later, when they aren't around. But in the moment, since I know he isn't doing anything abusive or harmful (just handling it differently than I would), I think it is better for everyone if the kids see the parents as a team. Sometimes when we talk about things and I understand his point of view, I ultimately agree with how he handled it, and sometimes even understand how the way I would have handled it would have been less effective. Most often, though, we just agree that there are two different ways it could have been handled and we chose different ones-- neither of us was right or wrong, we just made different choices. 

And those differences in parenting style? They actually are a huge ASSET when you are working as a team. We know when one of us is a better choice at handling a situation, and we recognize when we need to step in for the other or ask our partner to step in for us. And I am learning new ways of parenting from him, ways that are more effective in some situations... I can avoid power struggles by asking myself "what would DH do in this situation?" and responding that way. And he recognizes times when he comes across louder or more harsh than he intends, and he has learned to take a breath and speak quietly. 

 

This applies to all of our kids, even my step-daughter whose mother is actively involved in her life. Children in our house are parented by both of us, and we parent together, regardless of the biological relationship. If I'm not sure of a decision for my step-daughter, I tell her it's something Papa and I need to talk about it first... which is the same response I would give any of the kids if I felt like something required a joint decision.


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#11 of 11 Old 03-22-2012, 05:12 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks Aricha and Kathy, and everyone.

Because of where we live, counselors and such aren't an option because there simply aren't any here.

So I guess I should start looking for a book, and in the mean time, the advice here is very helpful.

 

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