misbehaving during visitation? - Mothering Forums
Blended and Step Family Parenting > misbehaving during visitation?
Flor's Avatar Flor 03:50 PM 07-04-2005
I don't know what to title this. Basically, the ex called last night and said dss (10 yo) has been terrible when he is at her house. Bad attitude, telling her no, saying rude things, etc. She said she is at the end of her rope and has almost sent him home several times lately. He is there 2 days one week, and 3 says the alternate week.

He is not like that at home. He might roll his eyes or mumble under his breathe once in a while but if you call him on it, it stops. He does well in school, no behavior problems there, and seems generally pretty well adjusted.

At first, dh thought, well we need to stop this. If he was at a friends house, we'd need to know about his behavior, talk about it, correct it, etc. But a little while later he changed his mind. Says ex is a drama queen and he doesn't feel right disciplining dss when he doesn't REALLY know what happened.

So here is the thing, how do you really coparent in reality? Do you let the ex do her thing, and we do ours? Do punishments carry over? The last time this happend her story against dss really didn't match. If we were having problems with him anywhere else, I'd be more inclined to believe her.

Besides the possible rudeness he is showing her, you have to ask why he is doing it, what is going on that makes him want to act like that (if he really is!).

Just looking for some feedback on the situation.

mammastar2's Avatar mammastar2 04:31 PM 07-04-2005
Well, I think coparenting in reality means that you each have your own turf, because, as you say, it's hard to 'step in' and assess what's going on in each other's houses and respond accordingly.

If she wants your input, that's fine - I wish we actually had good communication with my stepdaughters' demented mother. By all means bat around what might be going on for your dss, assuming the behaviour is what she says it is. Even input can be tricky though - I'm sure that, for example, the notion that he may be having trouble adjusting to time at mom's house would feel very differently if it was something mom came up with on her own, vs the stepmom presenting it as an insight, if you see what I mean - her defences may go up pretty quickly!

If you guys can agree on some consistent responses to 'bad behaviour' that could be good, but enforcing them on each other's behalf just seems fraught with difficulty. And if you can't come up with consistent responses, well, frequently coparenting just has to mean showing respect for the parameters the kid faces in the other house and leaving it at that.

Is she even wanting you to enforce something on your part, or 'fix' the situation? If so, she may not have thought through the consequences. I can think of plenty of situations when she probably wouldn't be so eager to have you 'fix' something going on in her home.

If you have a pretty open relationship with your stepson, I'd ask him open-ended questions about how time with his mom has been going, and maybe mention that she had said that it's going through a bit of a rough patch - see how he responds, and if working out some coping strategies with him might help. I'd just encourage him to work out his problems with his mom, though, not get in the middle.
mammastar2's Avatar mammastar2 04:35 PM 07-04-2005
One further thought - she may be calling you to complain about his behaviour to emphasize that dss is rude and difficult to deal with as a result of being in your home. I know my husband's ex has a lengthy laundry list of supposed problem behaviours at her house that she's very invested in blaming on our house. I don't know if the kids show these behaviours or not at her place, because we sure don't see them here. Her major investment is not in problem-solving but in blaming. I don't know if that's your dss' mom's MO, but if it is, feel free to offer vague sympathy and puzzlement, but don't lose sleep over finding a 'solution' with her.
Flor's Avatar Flor 10:30 PM 07-05-2005
Quote:
Originally Posted by mammastar2
Well, I think coparenting in reality means that you each have your own turf, because, as you say, it's hard to 'step in' and assess what's going on in each other's houses and respond accordingly.

If she wants your input, that's fine - I wish we actually had good communication with my stepdaughters' demented mother. By all means bat around what might be going on for your dss, assuming the behaviour is what she says it is. Even input can be tricky though - I'm sure that, for example, the notion that he may be having trouble adjusting to time at mom's house would feel very differently if it was something mom came up with on her own, vs the stepmom presenting it as an insight, if you see what I mean - her defences may go up pretty quickly!

If you guys can agree on some consistent responses to 'bad behaviour' that could be good, but enforcing them on each other's behalf just seems fraught with difficulty. And if you can't come up with consistent responses, well, frequently coparenting just has to mean showing respect for the parameters the kid faces in the other house and leaving it at that.

Is she even wanting you to enforce something on your part, or 'fix' the situation? If so, she may not have thought through the consequences. I can think of plenty of situations when she probably wouldn't be so eager to have you 'fix' something going on in her home.

If you have a pretty open relationship with your stepson, I'd ask him open-ended questions about how time with his mom has been going, and maybe mention that she had said that it's going through a bit of a rough patch - see how he responds, and if working out some coping strategies with him might help. I'd just encourage him to work out his problems with his mom, though, not get in the middle.
I agree with a lot of what you say here. I like the idea of coparenting but its reality is a little strange. Dh doesn't want to offend her by not believing her, but really! It's not that he has never lied to us, it's just that he is bad at it so we usually know. She doesn't seem to be blaming us for the issues, more like she wants us to fix it. She wants to send him home when he's naughty. I think this is wierd and reinforced that we are the parents and she is the fun house but not all the way in control. She want to threaten him with "calling dad." I feel like she is putting all the blame on dss, that these issues are all because he's going through puberty, and he doesn't respect her, or what ever, but dh is here saying, "I am tired of teaching her how to parent!" I'm not really comfortable "punshing him" for a story that doesn't seem quite complete.
mammastar2's Avatar mammastar2 12:56 PM 07-06-2005
Yes, sounds like you should make non-committal noises and stay out of being 'the enforcer,' just stay open to listening to your step-son and helping him develop whatever solutions he needs. Your committment is to him, not to her.

If she wants to be the 'fun' house, her response to his problems with her is unfortunate, because being told 'behave or you go back to dad's' is more likely to feel like rejection than anything else - poor kid. No child should feel like their welcome at their parent's home is that iffy. That must be hard for him.
MomBirthmomStepmom's Avatar MomBirthmomStepmom 09:17 PM 07-06-2005
To be hoenst, dss is on his worst behavior here, after he's seen his biomom.

To clarify, I do not blame this on his biomom. It seems to me that it's hard for children (especially at this age, with puberty approaching. My dss is 9 btw, and has some signs of impending puberty...) to go from home to home, different 'rules' to different 'rules', one parent one place, the other in another... That's gotta sucks. And yeah, he gets a MAJOR attitude when he gets back from seeing his mom. He's rude, wants his way MORESO than normal :LOL , is whiney, clingy, and often gets so over-whelmed over small things, that he cries. (the other night, he cried when I served yams with dinner)

I really just think it's so difficult for some kids, and like I said, maybe even moreso during this age (even if they didn't have these issues before) to deal with...

Like the last poster said, my dss's biomom is also the 'fun house'. When he's there, there are no rules, no discipline, no structure, no real one-on-one time, no family dinner... Nothing like what we have here and try to provide him with. So, I think there are also issues with the fact that he has to come home and there are chores etc...lol (ya know, the not fun aspect of our home), and also the sadness that he still wishes he didn't have to shift between 2 homes, and that mom and dad could still be together, and they altogether could be the 'fun house'.... Does that make sense?

Take what she says at face value. She could be exaggerating, and she could be telling the truth. Like I said, my dss is his worst behaved when he comes home from seeing biomom...
Flor's Avatar Flor 07:17 PM 07-08-2005
Oh, yeah, I agree that kids can act different at different houses. But should we/can we do anything about it? I really can't take what she says at face value since she tells me crazy things all the time that turn out to not be true (more exaggerations and "jumping the gun" than lies). It most cases, of course you want to believe the adult, but it just feels weird to be giving him a hard time about behavior we've never seen and an interaction we aren't familiar with (I mean, I don't really know what their relationship is like when we aren't there). It just makes me wonder what exactly I mean when I say "coparenting."
MomBirthmomStepmom's Avatar MomBirthmomStepmom 07:43 PM 07-08-2005
I'm not saying give him a hard time at all.

Perhaps the phrase I was looking for was 'take what she says with a grain of salt'? Don't give it much thought was the gist of my post honestly..

Take care of things at your home, and let her learn to parent at her home.
Flor's Avatar Flor 03:28 PM 07-09-2005
Quote:
Originally Posted by MomBirthmomStepmom

Perhaps the phrase I was looking for was 'take what she says with a grain of salt'?

Take care of things at your home, and let her learn to parent at her home.
I think this is it exactly. She's a little insulted we don't jump to her defense, but she's a big girl. She can figure it out, right?
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