VENT- my husband has his priorities all out of wack - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 4 Old 04-24-2006, 02:14 PM - Thread Starter
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Dh had 5 kids with his first wife. They were ages 16 down to 6 when she had an affair they divorced. She played headgames with the kids, custody was always being fought over in the courts. In the end he got full custody of the older boys, and 50-50 of the younger two. When the second boy was 15- he got in trouble (for drugs) my husband laid down the law and M said mom wouldn't be so tough on me and went to live with her. He is now 20- has no job, multiple convictions, is disrespectful and violent. The littlest two are 16 and 13. The 16 year old is the only girl and for a few years now refuses to comply with the 50-50 custody agreement and stays with the mom full time. All this to say - dh wants the now 13 year old full time. He has fought in court twice and lost, so his plan is to make it as easy, and fun to live here as possible. He says that in general J is a good kid, but is easily influenced by others, so does not want him following M's path. He argues that spoiled is better then drug addicted, and says he can undo any damage when he gets him full time.
So J gets to play all day every day on the computer (WOW_ if anyone cares what game). He gets his favorite sodas and snacks and is not asked to do any chores. He hates school and every morning I have a hard time getting him to wake up for school. He just asked his dad if he could be homeschooled and dh said yes if the mom says yes.
Dh says that education isn't as important as character- and I can agree on a philosophical level- but what character traits are you teaching by allowing a child to play online all day? Anyway when I said that I really object he said it isn't my call to make, and wants to use some dvd homeschooling program- that he says will be no work for me- yeah right. He has given me no authority over this child- do you really think that this kid will watch 3 hours of dvd school everyday? And do the work? He's basically letting him drop out of school in my opinion, and this is a bright bright child- it seems to be such a shame that his parents priorities are so out of wack. I really care about this boy, and want him to get an education. Dh thinks that nothing is more important then getting J full time- and that just seems out of wack to me. If we ended up split up he swears that he would never do simular things with me and our son cause I would never play headgames, or try to turn his child against him, but it does kinda scare me. Anyway there is nothing I can do- dh is dead set against making J go to school, nothing I have said has changed his mind and we just end up fighting- so I have to sit back- watch this kid's future get messed up and explain to my kids (one of them in the same grade as J) why they have to do chores, can't have soda, and have to go to school.

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#2 of 4 Old 04-24-2006, 02:28 PM
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I'd tell him he can homeschool his son as long as HE is there to supervise him. You cannot keep this child safe because you have no authority over him.
Also, having no authority over him means you have no responsibility TO him. He needs to do all his son's caretaking, including laundry, grocery shopping, etc.

I borrowed this from a stepmom's group I'm a part of (thanks to the source) it's long but worth reading:

Here's the original post by FallMorn:

I believe (my libber genes go crazy with this one) that men &
women convey different facets of life to their children. Women
tend to be concerned with socialization: manners, morals,
respect, appreciation, cleanliness, thoughtfulness, etc, as well as
physical & emotional health. Men tend to be concerned with
results: touchdowns, batting averages, spelling bees,
"accomplishments" in general. (You know, the really important
stuff!). In normal (not critically dysfunctional) nuclear families,
this arrangement works pretty well. The children develop bonds
with their parents which permit the parents to maintain the "moral
authority" to deal with their kids. Most of these men think
they've been great parents, & have terrific kids who could be
loved by anyone. Then they get divorced & eventually marry
us, expecting everything to function in the same way that it did
in the first marriage. The problem is, they have no idea beyond
their own personal, limited "input" what is involved in raising kids.
One stepmom on one of the boards made the remark "I just don't
understand how his 4 year old son can be sitting directly between
him & the TV, & he doesn't see the kid playing with a lighter!" I
believe he doesn't see because he's never had to. There has
always been a woman in his life who takes care of "that stuff."

When we as stepmoms come into the lives of these people,
many of us already mothers to our own biokids, we willingly
assume that we can expand our mothering role to include our new
SKs, intending to keep on doing what we've been doing. Even
those who have never had children of their own have those
"mothering genes." Our problem is that we don't have the
bonding with these kids that is required to give us the "moral
authority" to parent our SKs. The only way we can get that
"authority" is through our DHs, & he must give it to us by
expecting & demanding that his kids respond to us with
obedience & respect, or at least respectful behavior. THAT is
what is meant by a supportive DH. Most of them THINK they
are supportive, & many of US think they are supportive. But
unless they are willing to discipline their children every single
time they speak disrespectfully to us, or ignore us, or disobey
us, they are giving their children permission to continue &
sometimes escalate, this behavior. And because our DHs have
NEVER had to be mothers, they don't know what we're talking
about when we try to get their help. They are still being the same
parents they were when they were married to their exes, things
worked out ok there, so they assume that the problem is US!

The more we "nag" & point out what's wrong with their kids, the
more convinced they become that we have no parenting skills .
The more we are determined that these kids ARE GOING TO
MIND US, the more parenting we do. And the more parenting we
do, the less our DHs have to do. Which is exactly the way they
want it. They would rather we didn't scream so much, but we're
getting the job done (the kids brush their teeth when we're red in
the face, they go to bed when we have spittle spewing). Dad
can just keep on being a father, which means he doesn't fool with
this stuff. But he's still thinking we're crazy, & can't understand
why we're so mean to his kids. In addition, our "criticism" of his
kids is seen as a criticism of him.

DH is not a mother, has never been a mother, & doesn't know
what it means or requires to be a mother. DH is content being
the same parent he has always been, & thinks his kids are fine
the way they are. He's just as confused as we are about why
we're having so many problems with our SKs, but in his heart, he
believes that we are at fault.

Now we come to the kids themselves. Here we have children
who, for the most part, have been raised by two parents with
whom they are bonded & for whom they accept the power of
their bioparents authority. We stepmoms come into their lives
with no bond & with no authority. But we blindly assume the role
of mother in our own homes, & all the responsibility involved.
After the "honeymoon" with the kids is over, if we even have
that period of peace & tranquility, the kids begin to test the
waters. Now, keep in mind, they do this with their bioparents too,
but quickly submit to the authority of these people for whom
they have respected & admired since birth. They look to DH to
see what they can get by with, because they have no intention
of submitting to our authority until they are made to do so. DH
has never involved himself in these struggles between his ex &
his kids, because she can handle it herself. He doesn't see the
problem. The kids don't know that he can't see the problem.
They think he is giving them unspoken permission to defy us.
And so they do. The struggles become more angry, more bitter,
more frustrating.

And another amazing thing occurs. In some cases, we give
these kids their first real taste of power. With their parents, they
are willing to submit, because if nothing else, they fear the loss
of their parents' approval. They feel no such need to have our
approval. They find that with the mere shrug of a shoulder or a
rolling of the eyes that they can turn a big strong adult into a
raging maniac. By this time, we have become so frustrated,
everything they do infuriates us. And in getting by with
disrespectful behavior (& they get by with it because DH doesn't
stop it), they are encouraged to even greater heights of
disrespect, & gaining an even greater sense of power. We end
up handing these kids tremendous power over us, on a silver
platter, & they love it.

There we are, doing all the work (laundry, grocery shopping,
cooking, chauffeuring, supplying needs, the list is endless),
doing everything reasonable to maintain our family as we had
envisioned, and these kids are treating us like bugs on the soles
of their shoes. We are raging to our DHs, who can't understand
why we're so angry, & we're wondering what we're doing here,
working our rears off, trying to raise these children, feeling
abused & unappreciated by DH AND his kids. Sometimes we
think about divorce.

Now it's time to disengage.

In order to successfully disengage, you have to accept some

They are:

1. Your SKs are not your children.

2. You are not responsible for overcoming their previous

3. You are not responsible for what kind of people they are.

4. You are not responsible for what kind of people they become.

5. You are not obligated to become an abused member of the
household just because you married their dad.

6. You are not responsible for raising your SKs.

7. All the responsibility belongs to your DH.

8. Your DH is not a mother.

9. Your DH is not going to raise his children the way you want
him to.

10. Your SKs are not going to turn out the way they would if DH
supported you.

What all this means is this: You must stop parenting your SKs.
You must stop telling them what is expected of them. You must
stop disciplining them. You must turn over all responsibility for
them to your DH. You must allow DH to make whatever
mistakes he makes.

But first, you must explain to DH & SKs what is happening. This
is what you say: "Everyone is unhappy, our home is miserable,
& I'm completely frustrated & angry all the time. You kids are
angry & frustrated with me, & >it's getting worse. Someone has
to do something about this, & I decided that it will be me. I have
decided that I will no longer be responsible for getting you to bed
on time, or getting you up in the mornings. I will not tell you to
wash your hands before dinner, & I will not tell you to brush your
teeth or take a bath. (You must list all those things for which
you have assumed responsibility, whatever they are). I am no
longer going to do anything that will give you the opportunity to
treat me with disrespect. In the future, if you need anything,
you must ask your dad. I will no longer take responsibility for
(whatever, getting your school supplies, shopping for your
clothes, doing your laundry, taking you to basketball practice,
etc.) What I hope to accomplish is for us to begin to get along
with each other, & the only way I know to do that is to let your
dad be the parent."

And every time they ask you for something, or ask permission
for something, you say "Go ask your dad." Your SKs may end
up missing out on some terrific things because of your
disengaging, but it was a choice they made when they decided to
make your life miserable. Never give them the opportunity to
treat you disrespectfully.

Many of you may be saying, does all this mean I have no
rights? Absolutely not. You must choose your battles, & to
disengage, your battles should be about those things that
DIRECTLY affect you. For example, you have a right to keep
your home with the degree of neatness & cleanliness that you
desire (just leave the SKs rooms alone & concentrate on the
communal areas). You can say, "From now on, I expect
everyone to put their stuff away by bedtime. Since I will no
longer be asking you to do it because I don't want to argue with
you, anything that is left out after 9:00 will be disposed." Period,
no discussion, just do it. If it's important to DH for his kids to
keep their "stuff," HE will parent his children, or do it himself. "If
you don't clear the table after dinner, I will not set a place for
you at the next meal." Period, no discussion, just do it If it's
important to DH for his kids to eat, HE will parent his children, or
do it himself. "If you leave your dirty clothes on the floor in the
bathroom, they will be disposed." Are you getting the idea?

You see, the REAL problem is not between you & your SKs, it's
between you & your DH. These children are HIS responsibility,
& if he wants good things for them, he will parent them. If he
doesn't care (believe me, he really does!), why should you beat
your head against the wall?

My son ALWAYS had a bedtime, my SSs NEVER had a
bedtime. Now I tend to my son, & let DH tend to his. If he
wants them to get a good night's sleep, he will parent them. If
it's not important to him, I don't make it my concern.

My DH goes to work at 5:30 AM, which leaves me the task of
getting everyone up & ready for school. It used to be a
nightmare getting my younger SS up, he would growl & yell &
scream, & roll over & go back to sleep until I was screaming my
lungs out, jerking the covers off. Every day started like that, &
I was miserable every evening, thinking about my next morning's
task. So....I just stopped. I told DH to get him an alarm clock.
And I told DH that if he wanted to help his son start his day well,
he might consider making sure that SS goes to bed at a
reasonable hour, but that I would no longer make it my concern.
SS missed 2 days of school because he wouldn't get up, & I
refused to make a second trip to take him there. DH decided to
parent his son. He did it without being home by using
consequences if his son did not get up in time to get ready for

The point is this: DH must decide what is important to HIM. You
must be willing to put up with some degree of inconvenience to
"allow" him to parent his children. But whatever inconvenience
you suffer will be minor compared to the conflict that might be
part of your life right now. My DH stepped up to the plate. Your
DH might not. But that's HIS decision. Don't expect him to
agree with your "new position." He doesn't agree with your
current position. Don't expect him to like what you are doing - or
to be more precise - not doing. The less YOU do, the more HE
must do, & that will not make him happy. You must remember
that he has no right to expect more parenting from you than he is
willing to do himself.

You may be thinking, this is nuts! We agreed to be "parents" to
each other's children. Yes, but he also agreed to be a parent to
his OWN children. None >of this means that you can't do
ANYTHING. It's very likely that DH will need your help. That's
OK. The issue here is that DH must ASK you for your help,
instead of what you've been doing - assuming the responsibility
& being unappreciated for it.

When DH needs something done that he can't do himself (a ride
for one of the kids while he's a work, for example), first, you
have already told the kids "Go ask dad." So DH is REQUIRED
to become involved in his children's lives. He now must THINK
ABOUT what's involved in raising his kids, & we all know it's a lot
of work. And you can agree to help out, only if DH asks. BUT,
to disengage, you must be willing to withdraw your agreement to
help IF the kids, between now & the event, treat you
disrespectfully! And you must refuse to assist next time if DH
& the kids don't say "Thank you." You also have a RIGHT to
have your efforts appreciated.

When you begin to value yourself in this whole relationship by
expecting to be treated with respect & appreciation, you'll feel a
lot better. When I say "to value yourself" I mean that if your
efforts are not appreciated - don't do it! Sometimes the SKs will
think, "Well, we're in the car on the way to the ballgame, now I'm
home free to be disrespectful!" BAM! They smart off to you!
Well, turn that car around & take them back home - don't raise
your voice or act insulted or point out how ungrateful they are.
Just say "I'm sorry you've decided to treat me disrespectfully. I
must withdraw my offer to take you."

BTW, these are also good methods of getting your OWN
children's respectful behavior!

I know, from my own experience, just how hard it is to "let go."
But it's up to you to make the choice - "Am I going to continue to
live in this awful situation, or am I going to do something about
it." While you fear what will happen to everyone when you
"disengage," as if the family will fall apart, you will be surprised
at the change in your own life. I can't guarantee that everything
will turn out the way it has for me, but I can guarantee that you
will no longer feel angry, frustrated, resentful, & hurt. The
HARDEST part is giving up the need to straighten out these kids
& "change" them into the children YOU want them to be.
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#3 of 4 Old 04-24-2006, 03:04 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks Chris- I agree with alot of what it said- about not being responsible for the outcome - I do need to stop worrying about it- it hurts alot cause I do care about dss.
I have a little trouble with not doing the household stuff for dss- since i am a sahm, and my children's father passed on- we recieve very little money to support them. I think that since he has taken on the financial burden of my kids- I can take on the household ones for his- kwim?
I do need to clarify that dss is respectful to me, he listens and does what I ask him. Except for waking up for school- which seems more like extreme sleppiness then disobedience. I don't feel like a "bug on the soel of his shoe" as your post says- if I ever did and dh did not discipline- I think I would be out of here.

Punk, hippy, mama to 4 amazing kiddos, Boy#1 (18), TheGirl (13), Boy#2 (11- PBD) and Boy#3 (6)
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#4 of 4 Old 04-24-2006, 03:06 PM
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