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Relationship Problems between DH and DS - sorry long!

(45 Posts)
way2serious Sat 06-Apr-13 16:01:46

My DS is a typical 13 year old - spends most of his spare time in his room plugged into some device or another. He is bright and attends a good school where is he is doing ok despite not being particularly motivated or driven, except by my nagging! He has some lovely friends and there are no issues about his behaviour. He likes sport - plays for a football team, basketball and hockey teams and relies on us for lifts for training and matches, etc. He and I have always been really close despite me going back to work when he was only a couple of months old. We just seem to understand each other - that's not to say that he doesn't drive me completely mad at times and we don't have our fall outs. However, we usually resolve them quickly and move on.

My husband seems to find it really hard to understand DS. He constantly wants him to help with his work - property developing - but DS has absolutely no interest in this and hates it. This then escalates into a row where DH then claims he is ungrateful, takes away all electronic devices and refuses to give any lifts. DS and DH then stop communicating almost completely and the pressure then fall onto me to do all lifts, as I don't think DS should let his team members down. I have demanding full time job with very long hours whilst DH also works hard he can be more flexible.

DH can stay angry at DS for months - last time it was about 3! During this time they do not really talk and I just end up being caught in the middle.

Everything has been relatively calm for the past couple of months and the two of them have got on really well. We had a lovely few days away over the Easter weekend but since getting home, I have felt my DH beginning to get wound up about DS again and sure enough this afternoon he asked him to help him with a job, DS has refused and is now banned from everything indefinitely. DH never says for how long, just until he feels like it and that DS never learns his lesson.

May be I am too soft but all I see DH is doing is forcing DS away from him. He will then complain at other times that DS never talks to him. I agree that for specific misdemeanours there should be consequences for a set time but this complete ban for however long doesn't seem to be helpful. He really is a good lad and I don't know what DH is going to do if/when DS gets into trouble for doing something serious.
After 3 months of them not talking to each other last time, I had a real moan to DH about who the 'grown up' was.

DH is so stubborn and will not back down or see that he may have over reacted. Even if DS now apologises all he will get is a lecture and nothing will change. So now I feel depressed at being caught in the middle of it all again for the next however many months, while DS mopes around with nothing to do and me trying to keep the peace. We were supposed to be booking a summer holiday this weekend but it's now the last thing I want to do - the thought of being somewhere with neither of them talking to each other and expecting me to keep the peace just is not my idea of a holiday.

I guess I am also worried that DH's attitude will force DS away from both of us longer term.

Am not sure what I am asking for but just needed to get it out of my system!

Thanks if you have read all of this!

Xales Sat 06-Apr-13 16:12:05

Your DS at 13 should be helping out with his share of household chores. I don't think he should be expected to help your H with his work. Your H is paid to do that I assume and it is clearly something your DS has no interest in.

I think your H is extremely unfair to punish your DS like this. It seems to be verging on bullying. Do what I want whether you want to or not or else I will take absolutely everything you enjoy away from you. It is completely disproportionate to a child not actually misbehaving.

If someone ignored me for 3 months I would be divorcing them. Your DS should not have to be treated like this like by a parent in his own home.

If you don't knock this on the head your nice 13 year old who has no issues with his behavior will end up going out on the streets for something to do and giving you issues.

This clearly isn't a new issue how long has he been treating your DS like this?

way2serious Sat 06-Apr-13 16:24:33

Thanks Xales. I didn't know if it was me being too soft because DS and I are so close. DS does do daily chores around the house and tidies his room once a week and other areas of the house.

I guess this has really only started happening over the last couple of years as DS has become more independent and started making his own decisions and can be left at home on his own. Dh also changed jobs a couple of years ago and is now self employed. Both are very stubborn but DS just isn't interested in his dad's work (which I understand completely!)

I just don't know what to do now to resolve the current fall out and dread the next few months. DS will now have no contact with friends except at school and will complain of having nothing to do. I try to back DH by telling DS that he should have done what his dad asked. I even said to DS that I would go with him this afternoon and help him but he wouldn't go. So part of me is cross with him because this could have been avoided!


CogitoErgoSometimes Sat 06-Apr-13 16:29:34

I can understand if your DH gets frustrated that they don't spend any time together and also that he gets cross about him being in his room all day. I'm always telling mine to get outside in the fresh air and it's like pulling teeth. His reaction sounds too extreme, however... What strikes me from your description is that DH seems always to be insisting DS joins him in his interests but not proposing anything the other way around. If DS is plugged into various devices does DH ever plug in alongside and play along? Do they develop the sport interest beyond lifts? Do they have any common ground, in other words?

I find with my DS (about the same age) that if I show an interest in what he's doing, he's a lot more likely to join me in something I enjoy.

Xales Sat 06-Apr-13 16:34:04

I don't think you should be backing your H.

What exactly does property developing entail? Is it safe for a minor? Does your H have the right insurance if anything goes wrong and your DS is injured or for any 3rd parties injured by something that you son may cause? Will he be paying your DS a fair rate for any work he does?

I think you need to stop backing your H and make it clear he is being unreasonable and that it stops.

Your son will blame you equally if you enforce unfair punishments.

way2serious Sat 06-Apr-13 16:45:49

Cogito - DH was very sporty in his younger days and is very supportive of DS, giving coaching tips, finishing work early to be able to watch him play in school teams, etc. Both DH and I are not into computer games, etc. and are pretty useless with them.

When they are getting on they have a really good relationship and will go out together bowling or to play pool.

I think he wants DS to do jobs partly for him to be interested but mainly because he feels that DS almost has to pay back things he does for him. He will say things about always running around after DS and what we do for DS and yet Ds won't do anything for him. Obviously with the Easter school holiday it has been slightly more pronounced because DS has been lazing around for most of the week. I have said to DH that as parents and people who have chosen to live in a village with no transport system that taking DS to and from different things is what we signed up to and that we do it because we want to not because we want something back. But this doesn't get through!!

I just find it so hard to understand and also feel really sad about it. DH has gone to do jobs, DS now in sitting room watching DVD as he isn't allowed to do anything else.

way2serious Sat 06-Apr-13 16:48:55

Xales - DH isn't asking DS to do anything dangerous or risky. Sometimes it is to help sweep or clear up and this afternoon Dh was going to cut the grass in a property's garden and he wanted Ds to go and help to clear it up. DS complains that it is 'boring' and he ends up just waiting around not doing anything - this is probably true!

lemonstartree Sat 06-Apr-13 16:50:48

marking my place. I will be back. You are not alone :-)

CogitoErgoSometimes Sat 06-Apr-13 16:59:22

"Both DH and I are not into computer games, etc. and are pretty useless with them"

Seriously... you have to play the games and be useless. I'm just spitballing here .... but DS is being coached by DH in sport, so DH is the expert? And if he helps his dad with the property development, again DH is the boss. This is not a bad thing, necessarily, but if he's always tagging along behind dad and dad is always 'coaching' and giving instructions then it becomes a grind. A game where your DS is the expert just flips the tables... he can teach DH something.

Having said that, he should help clear up the gardens occasionally if he's been asked to do so. It's the school holidays, he's not doing anything else and there's a work ethic at stake here (pocket money?). So support your DH, don't let DS be lazy for the sake of it, and see if they can get to a compromise.

Toasttoppers Sat 06-Apr-13 17:11:47

Does he have any friends in the village?

Dc should help with chores, we make our DS who is a similar age, there is much hurummphing though.

As he does play sport and quite a lot by the sound of it then I don't see the problem with gaming. This is similar to what my DS does but he does have two friends that live five minutes away and they play out. They even walked in to town for the first time today to spend pocket money on x box games and haribo.

My DH and DS have the odd clash, not to the extent that your two do, it reminds me of rutting stags.

Xales Sat 06-Apr-13 17:16:50

Sorry I still think that punishing your child for not going to your Job which you are paid for and helping you do that is different from household chores with your DS already does.

CogitoErgoSometimes Sat 06-Apr-13 17:19:20

You don't listen to the Archers, do you Xales? smile When it's a family business - and property development is project work rather than a 9-5 desk job - it's not wrong to ask family members to pitch in occasionally. A bit of garden tidying or whatever is quite appropriate, usually in exchange for some pocket money

way2serious Sat 06-Apr-13 17:22:15

I think the 'rutting stags' is probably an apt description!

All friends live in villages 10 to 15 mintues drive away. DS goes to a school out of catchment in a city about half an hour away.

DS does do chores at home. Regularly washes up, makes light snacks for us all, looks after pets (feeding, cleaning, etc), tidies bedroom and bathroom and other areas of the house, takes dustbins out and brings them in, etc, etc. It's the jobs at the properties DH is developing that he hates. I think that it is because that at home he can pace out the jobs and have some down time in between, whereas if he goes with his dad he is there for at least half a day and can spend a lot of time hanging around with nothing to do.

Have spoken to DS and asked why he just didn't go for a couple of hours to keep his dad happy. I said that surely it was better to do that for a short time and keep all his electronic privileges which he has now lost indefinitely. He couldn't really answer that one!

way2serious Sat 06-Apr-13 17:26:00

Forgot to say, he doesn't get pocket money. We pay for school dinners, phone on contract and he tends to get clothes as presents or I buy them. He has money in his room from Christmas and birthday which he rarely spends.

CogitoErgoSometimes Sat 06-Apr-13 17:27:46

I had a fairly knock-down fight with my DS the other day about coming out for a walk with me. He was starting to take on a prison pallor and I thought some fresh air and a 3 mile stroll would do him good. The way he went on you'd think I was asking him to put in a 12 hour shift spot welding a battleship.... hmm Rather than 'keep Dad happy' therefore (which makes Dad the bad-guy) I think you should tell your DS that helping his Dad would make you happy.

Xales Sat 06-Apr-13 17:32:50

Perhaps it is because I have issues with having had to do 'favors' as a child by my step father if I wanted or needed anything. I don't think anyone should be forced to do things for normal family everyday things.

Personally I think that if you agree to your child doing a sport then it is part of family life to get them there and back. To take that away as punishment because they won't do something they clearly hate doing is wrong. To not talk to them for 3 months until another person intervenes because they don't want to do something they hate is also wrong.

I saw no mention of being paid pocket money for this either.

DS clearly does help around the house a fair amount. I think that is equal in exchange for lifts or playing on their games.

You may think it is right acceptable to force a child by removing anything they enjoy for indefinite periods. I don't.

marialuisa Sat 06-Apr-13 17:33:51

Does your DH ever give your DS advance warning that he would appreciate (and i'm deliberately using the word appreciate!) his help? I imagine your DS might respond better if he knew a few days ahead that, for e.g. on Wednesday he'd be clearing a garden with dad and his dad acknowledged that DS was helping him? It comes across that your DH suddenly demands DS helps him in a fairly aggressive way (and I'm assuming he's not prepared to pay him from what you've written) and DS naturally resents this.

NeoMaxiZoomDweebie Sat 06-Apr-13 17:37:37

Does anyone else think that not talking to your child for 3 months is actually abusive? I do. I think it's disgusting. OP I would imagine your DS will resent his Dad for this kind of emotional abuse later on in life and he may wonder why you never stopped it.

NeoMaxiZoomDweebie Sat 06-Apr-13 17:40:49

Oh and to compare this situation to "rutting stags" is ridiculous because the boy is a BOY and not a fully mature male.

The OPs DH obviously has some fixed ideas about what Father and Son should do together....the son shows no he ignores him or as OP says "remains angry".

Not on.

eastlands Sat 06-Apr-13 17:50:35

It's unreasonable for your husband to try to force your son into property development, what's the point of him going to school just to jump into an industry full of chancers and 'get rich quick' types requiring no real skill or education. Not to mentioned the property market being screwed.

NeoMaxiZoomDweebie Sat 06-Apr-13 18:05:35

That's beside the point wouldn't matter WHAT industry the OPs DH was's the actions that stink.

CogitoErgoSometimes Sat 06-Apr-13 18:08:09

Chancers? hmm And if you think it requires no skill you should try project managing one. LOL! FFS He's asking him to help sweep up some grass not blast-clean the inside of an oil-tanker... My Dad used to be a painter and decorator and I spent the occasional holiday helping him mix wallpaper paste and washing brushes...

NeoMaxiZoomDweebie Sat 06-Apr-13 18:13:47

Cogito development DOES take skills. can't tell me you think a Dad ignoring his 13 year old for 3 months is ok??

Nanny0gg Sat 06-Apr-13 18:16:31

If your 'D'H wants your DS to help clear up properties he is developing, then he needs to offer payment. That is not part of the parent/child deal imo.
Your DS helps about the house he lives in and clears up his room. Many parents would kill for DCs that do that!
I think your H's response to your DS's refusal to help is bullying at best and possibly verging on EA. I don't know how you stomached living in a house with it going on for 3 months!
And as I assume you're not really on board with the punishment you and your H need to discuss what is and is not appropriate.
What usually happens when the two of you disagree?

way2serious Sat 06-Apr-13 18:41:16

Thanks for all your replies and comments.

Eastlands - DH isn't trying to persuade DS to become a property developer. He wants him to go to uni and become a doctor, lawyer, etc. Property development certainly does take many skills and lots of hard work and DH is hardworking and is defintely not a chancer and is actually very considered when making work / business decisions.

Nanny - I think that DH thinks that Ds helping him is part of the parent/child deal.

It isn't that he wants 'slave labour' but thinks that DS should take an interest because DH is doing it for us a family and DS's future. He doesn't expect DS to be there every day but does want him to give some of his time in return for the time he gives DS.

I have tried to discuss this with DH but he just believes that he is in the right and can't see that giving an indefinite punishment is unfair. We've argued over it previously but DH can't see it the way I do.

Although i haven't wanted to admit it I do agree that this is now verging on EA especially when it goes on for so long. I don't know what to do to get DH to see this.

Toasttoppers Sat 06-Apr-13 18:43:47

It does sound as if your DS does quite a bit of helping round the house already. I missed the bit about your DH not speaking to him for 3 months, he needs to speak to him, this will have just made it worse, he is being the sulky teen in this not the actual teen.

So he has no one to hang about with, at that age you only want to hang about with mates. I avoided my parents and was off down the beach from 9 onwards.

You all need a proper talk and also get him seeing his friends, they only need the most minimal supervision, I get more done when DS has a mate round.

alistron1 Sat 06-Apr-13 18:47:41

I've got a 13 year old son. He's not an angel and pushes my buttons - but to ignore him for 3 months would just be wrong. Teenagers are tricky and s adults we have to be the bigger people. Sounds like you're parenting 2 teenagers here.

Nanny0gg Sat 06-Apr-13 18:52:31

Try ignoring your H for a day and see how he likes it. If there's anything precious you can hide too, it might make your point...

Angelico Sat 06-Apr-13 19:03:04

I'm usually pretty tough about teens but have to say your DS sounds like a good lad tbh! He does plenty round the house, doesn't seem to ask for much.

Your DH probably feels like he is working hard for the family and that DS should contribute more but his never-ending punishments and blanking DS are out of order. To me helping in a family business is above and beyond normal expectations of a teen and needs to be concretely rewarded. Is there a way of cajoling DS? Or tell him that from Sep lifts etc will be tied to him helping a half day a month or similar? If someone just told me to go and do something in my down time I'd be pissed off too.

The real problem here is that your DH is not being mature about this. He needs to use more carrot and less stick.

Machli Sat 06-Apr-13 19:14:55

I think it is absolutely ridiculous to try and get your ds helping with his Dads job and quite honestly if your sulky chops dh is ignoring his own son for three months at a time I am not a bit surprised ds doesn't want to spend any time with him. My ex's Dad thought that helping Dad out with DIY was part of the Father/Son Deal. The result was a son who was terrified of his impatient father and to this day hates those kinds of jobs because he was forced into them when growing up. Ds has plenty of time to do jobs and work like that in his future.

I think your DH is currently damaging his relationship with his son in a way that it will be difficult to recover from.

My parents used to ignore me for months at a time too, just for behaving like a typical teenager. I have literally zero respect for them now and often dislike them intensely. That's the future if DH doesn't sort himself out.

thepixiefrog Sat 06-Apr-13 19:40:19

I agree with Machli

A lot of posters are concentrating on the fact that your Ds doesn't want to help, but what is screaming out at me is the passive aggressive bullying your dh throws at your Ds.

If a poster said she was ignored for 3 months by her dh there would be a tidal wave of posts telling the op to ltb and calling him ea.

I'm really surprised by how few posters have mentioned it in this thread, and I'm wondering why the target of this ea (and it is) being a child and not a spouse would affect opinions.

Being ignored by a parent is incredibly damaging and not to be tolerated, OP.

way2serious Sat 06-Apr-13 19:50:08

Thanks again for everyone's comments.

Angelico - your comments were very fair and I think that your suggestion about a specific agreement would be good, perhaps linked to lifts and some pocket money. We could come up with something for the the summer holidays and something different for school time.

DS does have some contact with friends during holidays. He was at a sleepover on Thursday/Friday and had a friend over last Saturday. Its just harder to manage very weekend and just about impossible during school weeks. His friends are all lovely and they are never a moment's bother when they are here - as long as they get frequent food!! DS however, won't now have anyone to us because he has lost use of his Playstation. I will have to try and come up with something I can take him to do with a friend that won't cost me a fortune - any suggestions???

Machli - Thanks for sharing your personal stories - those are exactly the situations that I am worried about happening.

lemonstartree Sat 06-Apr-13 19:51:33

You have my sympathy.

my situation is slightly different, but ahs echo's of yours. I live with my DP and my 3 sons who are now 14,11 and 8. DP has two children who are now grown up; he separated from their mother when they were 7 & 4. He saw them very often but did not live with them FT through teenager strife.

My DS1 has Aspergers, he has also had issues with theft, been expelled from school and a bad attitude round the huse. He has DP have been, at times like big lion. little cub and the testosterone has been hard to handle. For me anyway. DP started with the indefinite 'screen' bans; but I think he now understands that he need to be clear and specific about punishments. ie if you do not empty the dishwasher you will not be allowed on the computer for 2 days.

At times DP has 'ignored' DS1 which led toa terrible atmosphere inthe house. I thin - through discussion he has understood that, as the adult, he needs to be the adult.

In conjunction with that I do think that adolescent boys need a firm hand. They need to understand that they are NOT 'men' but youths. They need strong role models and a clear framework of expected behaviour. I don't think 'strictness' is bad for teenage boys. In fact I kind of think its essential

NeoMaxiZoomDweebie Sat 06-Apr-13 19:52:56

IThePixie me too. It seems people didn't notice...but the OP has said that she sees it's not on now.

OP...I just couldn't be with my DH if he did this to my children. It's incredibly damaging. I suggest family counselling.

Xales Sat 06-Apr-13 19:53:48

This If a poster said she was ignored for 3 months by her dh there would be a tidal wave of posts telling the op to ltb and calling him ea.

There was actually one very recently. The damage it was doing was unbelievable.

Nanny0gg Sat 06-Apr-13 19:57:14

I honestly don't think he should work for his dad for lifts. It's not his fault you live where you do. And he already contributes to the home with chores. Work for his dad for pocket money, yes.
What are you going to say to your H regarding this EA of his son? Because much as I believe in showing a united front regarding discipline, I'd be giving him his computer stuff straight back if it were me.

colditz Sat 06-Apr-13 21:34:10

It's not your sons fault that he lives where he does, he NEEDS to be transported because of the housing choices you made. He is thirteen and besides doing chores, he should not be working for his keep.

If you husband doesn't stop acting like a spoilt brat, you are going to have a sixteen year old kid running off to join the army just to get away.

Currently, his life is really shitty. His father is a bully who wants him to skivvy around doing his donkey work, and emotionally abuses him by stonewalling if daddy doesn't get his own way, and his mother is too much of a sap to put a stop to it, instead suggesting that the child appease the adult by "just give him what he wants and he will be happy".

I mean, really? That's an appropriate lesson to teach anyone? That if someone behaves in a shitty manner towards you, using your lower status to make you do something you shouldn't have to do in order to earn things you should have anyway, you should give them what they want because they are 'bigger'.

I feel really sorry for this kid. His dad is only a dad when he's getting his own way, and nobody will point out that this is a reasonable way to behave.

Machli Sat 06-Apr-13 22:52:59

colditz that is exactly what ex did. Joined the army in his teens to get away from home sad.

Isetan Sun 07-Apr-13 02:39:28

You need to talk to your H and tell him that you can not back him when his behaviour is so disproportionate and abusive. Your son is being bullied in his own home and you have chosen to placate the bully. Your husband is damaging his relationship with his son and by backing and enforcing his disproportion behaviour and therefore colluding (in the eyes of your son), you risk damaging your own relationship with your son.

You have found yourself in the middle of an unhealthy family dynamic and as the reasonable adult in this you are going to have to take a lead role in improving it. You're going to have to stand up to your H and agree on what constitutes bad behaviour in your son and the appropriate punishment which will follow. However, not talking to his son for long periods is damaging to not only his son but to you too and is unacceptable.

CleopatrasAsp Sun 07-Apr-13 03:46:55

I am appalled by this. Why the fuck should your son be an unpaid labourer for his dad? He is 13 and already does chores around the house, he isn't some skivvy that has to pay you for bed and board by working for nothing, he is your son.

I despise adults who sulk and give the silent treatment, particularly when their target is their children, it is emotional abuse and it's about time you stopped being complicit in it and showed your son some support. Otherwise you may well not be as close as you are now once he becomes an adult.

ruthyroo Sun 07-Apr-13 07:06:23

Op you are not being soft on your son, you sound like a great mum. But you are being horribly soft on your H and are letting bully your boy horribly. Does your OH have any interest in possibly learning from you how to have a better relationship with his son, learning from you possibly?

Dh and I have pretty different attitudes towards discipline and behavior. He tends to jump to punish, especially when he's tired after a days work. I can't always support his actions wholeheartedly but I can certainly sit down and have a heart to heart. - often difficult - about where we can find common ground, and what the 'rules' need to be. If your oh won't do this then I fail to see what you can do to improve their relationship because its not actually your job. Personally I would not back my OH up if he was acting like this.

Btw I grew up living on a farm with no way to get to the outside world until I learnt to drive at 17. And neither of my parents ever refused to drive me anywhere no matter how much of a sulky teen I was acting as - and i was pretty horrible at times. I think I would have genuinely hated them for that, exerting that kind of power over me when I could do nothing about it. Your oh is doing damage to his relationship with his son.

chemicalsister Sun 07-Apr-13 12:21:26

on a parenting course I went on they really recommended a family meeting.
you coukd sit down and openly list each persons point of view of what works in the family and what doesn't . then try and all come up of ways to address what everyonr needs to be happy. all try together to think of realistic new ways of organising as a family. Try and see this as a common goal all three of you have as none of you want conflict.

The meeting would not be a demoracy, you are still the parents and him the child but everyone's views are important.

At the end try and draw up some positive new ways to run things. Discussing all this when everyone is calm bearing in mind all of you would prefer a harmonious family to constant battle may just work.
Hope this idea might help.

Josie1974 Sun 07-Apr-13 12:30:10

Agree 3 months of silence is abuse. you not standing up for your son and making it clear to both that this is wholly unacceptable and abusive is in itself abusive IMO.

Why would yr ds want to do chores for someone who treats him this way? Why the hell should he? Feel v angry on his behalf.

Josie1974 Sun 07-Apr-13 12:33:16

Btw by trying to get him to appease his dad by just doing what he wants to avoid the over the top punishment and silent treatment is teaching him that he is causing his dad to abuse him IMO.

AnyFucker Sun 07-Apr-13 13:22:49

This is an upsetting thread. You are colluding with your husband's appallingly childish, recriminatory and chilling treatment of your son.

As your ds grows up, he will dislike his father but don't expect him to give you any special understanding. He won't, and I don't blame him.

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