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Discipline / Step children

(9 Posts)
stenath79 Wed 12-Jun-13 13:40:53

My two DSS are wonderful young people and my DW deserves every credit for that. However boys will be boys and from time to time we have a disciplinary issue on our hands. My DW and I clash rarely but it's always when it comes to disciplinary issues. I knew when we were married what I was getting into but I thought given time that things may change. They haven't and I am becoming increasingly frustrated with being told to stay out of these matters. My DW is happy for me to take the boys camping, to cook for them, clean up after them, take them to football etc etc but as soon as I make a suggestion for how to deal with a problem I'm shut out. After 7 years I feel I have the right to be able to at least be heard but I regularly get any attempt thrown back in my face and it becomes quite unpleasant. I try to talk to my DW but it seems to always result in a heated exchange.

I will admit that my authoritarian approach to discipline may be dated, but I am not suggesting anything physical, aggressive or detrimental to their wellbeing.

We both love the boys dearly and try to not let it affect them but if I'm being honest I begrudge not being able to have apart in such an important aspect of my relationship as a step father and feel less inclined to do the nice stuff.

Am I being selfish? Is this a common issue? Anyone have any advice?


tigerrose Wed 12-Jun-13 13:52:02

I think this is a comon issue I am always being overruled by my other half in terms of his son and like you I take him out and cook, clean and iron. Yet when it comes to how and what he is allowed and not allowed to do and discipline I am in the main, incorrect.
You are not being selfish you have the right to have some authority in the house, however you need to sit down sensibly and have the discussion on what level of discipline is appropriate and when would she feel it appropriate for you to be involved. You need to come to a sensible compromise. Because you cant feel like you have no say in your own home.

Rightsaiddeb Wed 12-Jun-13 14:05:40

I agree with tigerrose.
7 years is a long time and surely your dss appreciate you being more than just the mothers husband?
After 4 years we are at the stage that dh is a figure of authority and deserves respect in our home. I always made dh an important factor in our lives and did this knowing also how important it is for ds to recognize and respect boundaries. For ds, dh and I are a team.
Slightly different story regarding my dsc. dh still panders too much to their whims, but does deal with the fall out himself too, I.e. they don't respect him and he has to suck it up. Some rudeness I will not tolerate on his part, like ignoring Father's Day. As they both make a real effort for mum (total bitch btw) I'm now insisting that they buy presents for their dad too (I.e. the one who has been financing their lavish lifestyles...).
Dh was really touched when ds wished him all the best for Father's Day (week earlier, we don't live in uk) the same as he does for his dad.
Talk to your dw, explain your resentment of the situation, you deserve more respect and appreciation.

theredhen Wed 12-Jun-13 15:02:37

Can you give some examples? I used to be very protective over ds when dp would tell him off. He too did practical things for ds but I felt there was no emotional bond and I felt that dp just didn't like ds and wanted to have a go at him simply because he didn't like him. hmm

As time has gone on I have come to realise that I have been very protective of ds partly because of my own childhood and ive always felt that I had to protect ds from anything and everything. The main thing that has changed though, is dp attitude towards ds. He seems to genuinely like ds and has a laugh with him. grin Dp has also understood my insecurities and worked with me rather than against me.

The most important thing, in this situation is to have a clear idea agreed by both of you of what your role in the family is and also agree some firm house rules. That way you are not "being nasty" when you tell them off, you are just enforcing the house rules you have both agreed.

If your dp refuses to have house rules or agrees them and then changes them as you go along, you are going to have problems.

Kaluki Wed 12-Jun-13 15:35:14

I have a similar issue but in reverse.
My DP doesn't have much to do with my sons. He is pleasant enough but makes little effort with them when his dc aren't around. It upsets me at times but it doesn't bother them - they are very close to their dad and don't need a 'father figure' as such. But when we have the dsc he will tell my two off, which I hate because it seems like the only time he interacts with them is when he has a go at them every other weekend so I have said to him that if he wants to respected as the authority figure he has to be the good guy sometimes too and not just throw his weight around when his own kids are there.
But in your case if you are making the effort with them then it has to work both ways and you must be able to discipline them within reason.

purpleroses Wed 12-Jun-13 16:51:52

What DP and I find works best is if we agree house rules together, in as much detail as possible and on an ongoing basis as needed. Then each discipline our own DCs off if possible (ie if we're around) but back each other up if they've had to do it.

It is really hard though when you're used to being a singe parent for many years to see your DCs told to do something you'd never tell them to do. My DD had a real go back at DP once when he told her she wasn't allowed out in the garden (in winter) in bare feet and appealed to me because she knew I'd have let her make her own mind up about things like that. If your parenting standards are considerably different form your DW's and the DCs are old enough to pick this up, you're going to have difficulty in enforcing a radically different regime from what the're used to. Maybe pick on the things that bother you most, or are most realistic to enforce and see if your DW will agree to enforce them and back you up if you do.

brdgrl Wed 12-Jun-13 22:24:48

Agree with redhen and purpleroses about the importance of having very very clear house rules.

For me, there is a key distinction between the things which violate house rules or which otherwise impact me and DD, and the things which I might dislike or disapprove of, but which have less direct impact on my homelife or DD's life.

So we have 'house rules', and these are agreed by me and DH and made clear to the kids. There are consequences set for breaking these, generally loss of pocket money, grounding, or loss of electronics.

I will tell the kids when they need to do something, but when it comes to the disciplining, DH 'delivers' the news, usually - although in a few cases of extremely bad behaviour, I have been the one to dish out some consequences!

I should add that my DSCs were already 10 and 13 when we met, so I am more hands-off than I would have been with younger kids.

For the things that do not have a direct impact on me or violate house rules, but which I feel are not good for the kids - who I care very much for and so want to see then disciplined as well as loved - I try to be a support and sounding board for DH. I do tell him what I think and how I see things playing out...we often end up talking through various options until DH finds one he feels right about. Without me, he'd always choose the path of least resistance, so I know I do have influence on these things.

My DH finds it hard to discipline, speak firmly to, or even allow 'natural consequences' to affect the kids. He is a very 'Disney Dad' and was even when the kids were small, just gotten worse after their mum passed away. He also used to favour one of his kids a bit when it came to getting away with things, which he has turned around very sucessfully. He's been trying to change his approach and things are lots better with the kids than they once were. He knows that he wants things to be different, and just needs support getting there. He is not always consistent, and the hardest part is that he tends to be a bit 'checked out' sometimes so he doesn't always hear or notice things that he really needs to - that is probably what we argue about most.

sanityseeker75 Fri 14-Jun-13 15:23:38

It is a tough one - I sort of have a reverse situation. My DH is very happy to complain to me about the behaviour of my DS but would never just go and tell him. To the point where it had really started to cause problems in our relationship because I felt like I was in the middle.

In fairness though he is the same with my DSS and DSD - it was always left to me to discipline them and again he would rather moan to me than just tell them and I felt this put me in constant bad person mode.

I kept telling him and he just didn't get it - I just kept plugging away at him and it nearly caused a break up for him to finally get it but now he does really try and is getting there slowly. I am better at taking a back step and if any of the kids do something and I think he is turning a blind eye so as to side step issue I pull him on it but very quitely and never in front of the kids.

babyhmummy01 Fri 14-Jun-13 22:34:00

I think it is really hard to be caught in that sort of situation. Before DP and I moved in together I had spent a lot of time with him and his 2 kids and found myself having to bite my tongue quite hard not to tell them off or interfere - I really don't agree with how his exw chooses not to discipline their kids. She strongly believes that they should just be allowed to do as they please and if DP ever tried to tell them off when they were still together she would cuddle them and tell them daddy was being mean and to ignore him so he gave up trying.

When we moved in together I laid down some pretty firm rules to DP about how things would very much be different in our house. Luckily he doesn't have completely rose tinted glasses about his kids so we were able to do exactly as redhen and purpleroses suggested and we discussed what rules and expectations we would have for the kids. We agreed on them and whilst it has been sheer murder at times we have stuck to them.

If you and your DW have been together for 7 years without such rules in place then you are gonna have a real challenge on your hands getting her to see things your way, but you need to talk to her and explain how you feel. Suggest the rules but have a clear and realistic view of what you think you can get her to agree to and maybe a few you know you can 'give up on' to make it fair and see how you go.

Good Luck!

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