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Reasonable or unreasonable?

(49 Posts)
NicoB Mon 20-Jun-11 16:39:59

Earlier this year I agreed to move into my partner's house, together with my son (nearly 14). Not an easy decision as DS is about to go into Year 10 and is at a grammar school at the moment, but won't be should we move 80 miles away. My partner does not have any children of his own.

I am writing because DS's future stepfather has issues with the behaviour of DS that we cannot seem to resolve. I, in turn, have issues with my partner's behaviour, particularly towards my son. Probably not much of a surprise!

My partner says that DS's back-chat is the worst thing and I agree with him on that - have never disputed it. However, it is getting better and he does get disciplined over it. He also thinks he spends too much time gaming, which is also probably true, though I do try to restrict it. Perhaps because he's an only child I let it go more, as he spends a lot of time talking on his X-Box to his friends. As an only child myself, I remember how lonely and isolating it sometimes was.

My partner tells me my son is "disturbed" and needs counselling, something I don't agree with. Yes, DS was upset at the marriage break-up (at age 7) and has been constantly disappointed by his natural father, but has pretty much come to terms with it now. He also sees his dad regularly, despite the fact that he isn't a particularly good role model. Ex-DH spends too much time in the pub, smoking, not doing much with our son and is hugely in debt, but DS loves him and wants to see him. I have asked DS about counselling several times, but he is adamant that he doesn't want to speak to anyone. At almost 14 I think he can make that decision. Besides, my father is a doctor and he doesn't seem to think there is a problem. Anyway, I just wanted to give a brief outline, so it gives a more balanced background to our tale of woe.

My partner is adamant that it will be 'his rules in his house' where my son's behaviour affects him. Fine - in essence. However, I want the right of veto if necessary, i.e, if I don't consider his rules to be fair and just. My partner constantly watches my son like a hawk and 'pounces' on him if he does something that he considers wrong. This could be something as trivial as DS resting his hand on the back of a kitchen chair ("Get your sticky fingers off my furniture!") even if he's just washed them, or for just accidentally jogging the kitchen table. It's like we're treading on eggshells for much of the time and it's not relaxing for anybody. I don't consider getting into trouble for something like that fine, or just, it's just nit-picking for the sake of it.

My partner doesn't seem to understand that a partnership is just that, i.e. we each get a say, otherwise it's just a dictatorship. However, I would have absolutely no problem with reasonable rules and would happily back my partner.

Whilst I accept his comments and concerns, there has to be some compromise and negotiation surely? He told me, "Any man who has to SUFFER a child will not allow you a veto. On what grounds, that he came out of your womb????"

So what do others think? Is my request for veto reasonable or unreasonable?

scurryfunge Mon 20-Jun-11 16:43:10

Do not move in with this man.

He will start on you next.

He sounds dreadful.

ithinkgoranwouldbegoodinbed Mon 20-Jun-11 16:46:13

The only thing I would be vetoing would be the man I'm afraid.

Run like fuck

His house his rules - well that's fine, fuck off.

muminthecity Mon 20-Jun-11 16:46:45

This sounds like an awful situation for your son, and for you. I would not want to live somewhere where I had to tread on eggshells and have my every move monitored. Is this really what you want? I would steer well clear if I were you.

JeffTracy Mon 20-Jun-11 16:49:25

I think you know it is not going to work. Your partner has to work with you on this and it already sounds like he will not. You are not getting an equal say under the "my house, my rules" thing and you and your son are going to resent all the conflict that comes out of it.

Teenagers are a challenge (and a great joy) but you partner does not seem to understand that. sad

glasscompletelybroken Mon 20-Jun-11 16:53:17

Don't move in with him - if it were the other way round and he was moving in with you would he be prepared for you to have the final say in what happens in YOUR house? I would guess not.

Surely if you move in with him it becomes your family home? Is yours an equal partnership?

It is difficult being a step-parent but he seems to be saying from the start that it all has to be his way. I suppose at least he is letting you know now so you have the chance to back out of this before you have made the move.

I think you would be unhappy feeling your son was being victimised and I'm sure your son would be unhappy too and ultimately damaged by this kind of treatment.

How extraordinary for your DP to think your son needs counselling now and yet have a plan of treatment for him that will surely cause that to be true!

elastamum Mon 20-Jun-11 16:55:53

Do your son and yourself a favour and do not move in with this man.

I an a LP and wouldnt dream of moving in with a man who treated my kids this way. From what you say it is also unlikely that the relatonship will last. Your son sounds a completely normal teenager to me. Your BF sounds like an arse

NicoB Mon 20-Jun-11 18:13:06

He's already started on me I'm afraid, but it's not relevant to this thread. So why do I stay? Well despite everything I do love him, even though I don't much like him at times. Also, I suppose I'm optimistic that he's capable of change: it's not as if he's unintelligent, he's got a doctorate, and I guess I equate intelligence with the ability to be rational, to see another's viewpoint... or I used to.

Normally I don't believe you should ever want to change someone. However, in this case, change is the only way and the ball is in his court (but can a leopard change its spots - I don't think so). It's up to DP to compromise, as I have, to see things from our point of view; to say sorry and mean it by doing something about it. He says he loves me, but his actions don't show it. He has little respect for me and has never had any for my son (apparently DS has to earn respect by doing something worth respecting, such as coming top at maths, or being a top athlete for his age etc.). DP doesn't seem to understand that disrespect breeds disrespect, or my question as to why DS should respect DP when that's his starting point?

Everyone else's children are better behaved, more intelligent, more interesting etc., etc. My son is 'the worst in the world', even though the parents of his peers are more than happy for him to visit, stay over etc., and tell me how nicely behaved he is, nice manners etc. It's as if I actually have two sons who are complete opposites, as I don't recognise the monster my DP portrays (okay, only occasionally!).

As so many have said, I do realise that we can't move in with a man who really believes that his way is the ONLY way. It's so sad that he is supposedly incapable of seeing how his actions affect us, only of seeing how things affect him. I believe that he does love me, in his own way, but he is always going to be No. 1.

I accept that he doesn't love my DS, of course, but he is adamant that all he has to do is "tolerate him" and no more, because he will never get anything out of the relationship. I don't agree with that either, since you get out of something what you put in. And if he puts no effort in then the prophecy will be self-fulfilling.

At the end of the day I do feel very sorry, sorry for all the love that is being wasted. Sorry because it could have ended in a positive way instead of a negative one. Sorry that I can't do anything about it except leave, because he can't see anything at all wrong with his actions, nor how much it hurts us.

I should say that there is the danger that he is going to see this thread, and I may live to regret posting - not physically I hasten to add, only mentally and emotionally - because then it will all get played out in public. Of course that's entirely his right to defend himself - I can't object to that. In any case, it doesn't matter what anyone else says here, he's simply not going to accept any criticism or advice, because he is always right!! If that happens I shan't get into a 'tit for tat' argument, but will likely just stand back and watch.

elastamum Mon 20-Jun-11 18:17:46

I feel sorry for you that it hasnt worked out, but everything you say indicates things wont get any better. Just think of the damage this man will do to your poor teenage son if you live with him.

then hold your head up..and walk away. Be strong. The love will fade

You deserve better. smile

scurryfunge Mon 20-Jun-11 18:23:32

Please consider asking to have the thread deleted if you feel he will cause you grief if he reads it.

I hope you make the right decision -sounds like you will and that you will put your child's well-being before his demands.
Stay strong.

AmberLeaf Mon 20-Jun-11 18:24:07

Dont move in with him.

Its your choice if you want to be with him but dont inflict your choice on your son.

DuelingFanjo Mon 20-Jun-11 18:29:44

gosh, so he will possibly turn up here?

I would get the thread deleted and do not move in with him!

NicoB Mon 20-Jun-11 18:29:59

I almost feel like showing him the thread to see if it makes any difference, but probably best not to. It would also look like I'm sticking the boot in, instead of just seeking others' unbiased opinions. hmm

eslteacher Mon 20-Jun-11 18:31:57

I agree it really doesn't sound like this co-habitation could work.

But, also just wanted to say, finding yourself in a step-parenting role can be a massive headfuck. Your DP's reaction to and treatment of your son is in many ways a (much, much) more extreme version of the type of reaction that I myself have had as a step parent. Putting aside who's right and who's wrong in terms of child-rearing values and ethics, it's bloody difficult to have to live with a child who you have had/don't get to have any hand in raising and who you feel you would have/would be raising in a different way had he been your own. The resentment you can feel towards this child for the limitations and influence he's having on your life just by existing can make you hyper-touchy and hyper-aware of all his defects. It can make you irrational, thinking "I have to accept another person's child into my life and home, I'm already making a huge sacrifice, so I should have the right to this and this and this to make up for it..."

That said, while I can to some extent empathise with this general type of reaction, I also fully recognise that these thoughts and reactions I have are based in the childish, selfish part of me and I would never DREAM of actually acting them out in the way that your DP has been doing. You have to temper those types of feelings with reason and logic and compassion, and just basic human decency. If your DP isn't capable of this, it's pretty sad.

NicoB Mon 20-Jun-11 19:13:28

Riverboat, I totally see where you're coming from and, in fact, recently bought a very good book on step parenting, which said exactly what you've said above.

DP is never going to agree that he is, in any way childish or selfish, nor that he needs to even try to temper those feelings. In fact, I think he's so consumed with jealousy, resentment and bitterness that he'd rather lose me than do what he'd see as 'losing face.' In his eyes no-one else knows what he's going through, or how much he's had to put up with (even though he doesn't even live with us and my son spends much of the time with his dad when I'm with DP). And you're right, it's all pretty sad.

Pictish Mon 20-Jun-11 19:20:27

NicoB - this man has not made your SON welcome. Nor will he.

He sounds absolutely ghastly and I think you should pack up smartish and leave him to it for your own sake, never mind your son's - why the HELL should he have to live somewhere is barely tolerated???

His treatment of both of you is totally unacceptable and I think the relationship needs to be called a halt to now.

Kitsilano Mon 20-Jun-11 19:26:27

For goodness sake be strong enough to protect your son from this man. He isn't going to change. It's bad enough to delude yourself with that belief but to expose your son to bullying and unhappiness because of a mistaken hope about what possibly might be in the future is unforgivable.

Come ON! You KNOW the answer.

Pictish Mon 20-Jun-11 19:31:41

Your son comes first. Full stop.

NicoB Mon 20-Jun-11 20:10:25

Yes, I DO know the answer, you're all totally right. I also think that it's DP that needs counselling, not that he would ever agree to it. We did, in fact, go to Relate once and the counsellor made short work of it when DP started moaning about DS. He was told, in no uncertain terms, that he'd known I had a child when the relationship started, so had no right to talk as if it was a surprise that he couldn't put up with. Despite that, couples counselling probably wouldn't have been right for a situation like this, I know that. It might just serve to reinforce DP's values: if only I didn't do this, or DS didn't do that, then DP wouldn't have to behave in a certain way and all would be fine. i.e. learning not to 'push his buttons.'

allnewtaketwo Mon 20-Jun-11 21:14:34

You need to do the right thing for your son. If you move in with this man (or even stay with him any longer), then I think you will be condemning your own child to a very unhappy life and a future filled with problems. Actually you know there's a big problem. Why on eart are you even contemplating it? Please have some self-respect - and if not for yourself, then for your child

Pictish Mon 20-Jun-11 21:23:50

I agree - if you stay with this tyrannical arsehole, your son's home life will be a real misery. Please don't subject him to any more of this.

nenevomito Tue 21-Jun-11 10:04:35

NicoB - please don't move in with this man. I can't see how it would be a good thing for your son if you did and even though you love your DP, you have you put the love of your son first.

nenevomito Tue 21-Jun-11 10:06:12

p.s. I'd be running for the hills.

lateatwork Tue 21-Jun-11 10:09:35

I guess you are contemplating this because you can guess how difficult it can be to be a step parent.... but please, that is no excuse for his behaviour. I am a step parent. It is bloody hard. But please re read Riverboat's post- I think she sums it up nicely.

BuggerAllTheBestNamesAreTaken Tue 21-Jun-11 10:17:51

Sorry but I could never be with a man who didn't treat my son with the love and respect that all children deserve. I'd let him read this then run for the hills, give him some food for thought!

Only you can protect your child

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