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My husband is becoming so controlling & my kids are really starting to dislike him

Ive been married for 7 years, and before that my husband had been living with us since my boys were 3 & 5yrs old so hes been their step dad for 12yrs. hes always been strict & i suppose when i look back controlling too and to be honest my boys have turned out fab as a result of having rules in place, so polite & well behaved. But now my boys have got older & want a life & have their own ideas. My husband doesnt like this loss of control & is imposing so many rules & giving them so much housework to do sometimes that i feel awful for them but if i try & intervene it causes a massive row & tells me to sort out my own kids but then a few days later he takes control again. He wont let my 15yr use his mobile unless its in front of him, my 17yr old has to put his phone in the kitchen every night at 10pm, even though i managed to get him to agree to 1hr a week on computer games, he kept reducing the time down until it wasnt worth my kids even turning on the computer, he bans them from talking about games in front of him, he makes them cook their own tea every night & bites my head off if i even suggest helping, he never gives praise for anything & just constantly uses sarcasm. my boys are unhappy & i dont know what to do, everyone we know complements my boys on their behaviour, my eldest has just aced his exams & got himself a little part time job as well as studying for his A levels, and I think hes worried he wont be allowed to spend his own money on what he wishes as stepdad will interfere, it shouldnt be like this at his age of 17 should it?

I love him and when we are alone he is a very loving husband, but im struggling with my feelings due to all this and wish there was help. I wonder if hes depressed or something but he wont talk to anyone & refuses marriage counselling
 

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Some parents are very strict, and some are not. What you are describing does seem a bit out of line.

Could you perhaps ask him what he considers the appropriate ages for assigning responsibilities and freedoms and what that looks like? If you could put that in writing, you could discuss when freedoms should be reduced based on performance, and when they should be allowed more freedom based on a proven responsibility track record. Putting those details down in writing might help both of you get on the same page, and openly discuss what makes sense.
 

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I question how loving he can be if he has no problem disrespecting you and undermining your parenting like this. He's being out of line to your kids, but that he keeps going against your wishes like that is also uncalled for.

I'm also worried that you keep letting him. You should feel empowered to put your foot down about your own children and to hold him to his word. If he agrees to back off and starts taking over, why aren't you calling him on it instead of letting him?
 

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Have the kids done anything to earn his distrust? What kind of teenager was he? Maybe he's trying to keep them from making a mistake he did when he was younger. Anxiety sometimes makes people controlling like this.
 

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So he is controlling and cruel, and you allow it.


Honestly, that behavior wouldn't be allowed in my home, and I've made it very clear to my spouse that if I ever have to chose between being with him or my kids feeling safe and loved, my kids come first.


Sarcasm is evil. My own father is like that, and I haven't made a trip back to my home town in 7 years. What you allow now may impact the kind of relationship your sons have with you when they are adults, and they nearly are. They don't have to put up with this nonsense much longer, so why would they?
 

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Regardless of how long he's been in their lives YOU are the primary parent here. He should be taking his cues on boundaries, consequences and treatment of your children from you. If there is an area in which you disagree on how best to handle something regarding the kids, you have the final say.

I think his behavior is definitely over the line, and reading between the lines I suspect it has been for a while. It sounds like he is trying to control you as well as the kids, and when he doesn't get his way he pitches a fit and then guilts you about it. (Please correct me if I'm wrong here)

Ideally the two of you would discuss parenting issues in private, come to an agreement and be able to present a united front. That's seems really far from what's happening here. I think you need to think carefully about whether you want to continue your relationship with this man, and perhaps seek counseling for yourself. In the meantime, stand up for your children and let them know that they are your priority. I don't want to rush to judgement without all the information but your husband sounds potentially psychologically abusive.

My stepfather was a hard, intimidating man. When my mom wasn't around he would threaten to beat me and other things. When I tried to tell her about it and how it made me feel, she blew it off or said he was joking. I grew up feeling unsafe in my home and having no control over my own life. It has absolutely affected my relationship with my mom to this day.

It's time to put your kids, and yourself, first.
 

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I love him and when we are alone he is a very loving husband, but im struggling with my feelings due to all this and wish there was help. I wonder if hes depressed or something but he wont talk to anyone & refuses marriage counselling
Honestly, it's hard to read this. To me a loving husband is someone who treats your kids like gold too. Just some questions for reflection: Could it be that he is narcissistic and needs 100% total unconditional adoration in order to be a "nice guy"...possibly why it works when you are alone, because your attention is 100% on him? And could it be that you have normal/respectful teenagers who have outgrown the "Daddy's a hero" stage and are ready to become their own people? How would you feel if he treated you the same way the day you dare to disagree with him?

The sarcasm and lack of praise is very concerning. He is verbally abusing them. They are unhappy. He won't consider any input. He needs to be right. He needs to have power over them. Those are hallmarks of an abuser.

I think you should consult a lawyer and find out if he could get any custody rights if you divorce.
 

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I think you should consult a lawyer and find out if he could get any custody rights if you divorce.
In the uk, judges take the kids' opinion into consideration after 13 or so. The eldest is nearly 18 and the youngest is old enough that his opinion will be given a good amount of weight. I imagine that even if the step dad did try to fight for custody, he wouldn't get very far with both kids vehemently saying they don't want it.
 
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