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help: DSS4 hurting DS3 all the time

(37 Posts)
chocoraisin Tue 17-May-16 08:34:30

I am feeling pretty hopeless at the moment. This particular issue is driving a big wedge between me and DP (fiancee).

We have 4DC. Mine are DS1 (nearly 6) and DS2 (nearly 4). His are DSD (nearly 9) and DSS (will be 5 in Sept).

The issue is that DSS is hurting my youngest DS, all the time. The past weekend DSS has: pushed DS off a children's picnic table, elbowed him in the face, kicked out at him just because he walked past him, yelled at him because DSS fell over in the garden and tried to kick him because he blamed him (DS was nowhere near him) and screamed at him and tried to punch him because DS accidentally scooted into the back of him on a walk. He wasn't hurt.

The last one in particular really upset me, because I had watched DSS attempt to scoot into DS deliberately several times. Occasionally hitting DS who just got back on his scooter and carried on. They were about 50m ahead of us on a pedestrian pathway, so without running to them or taking the scooters off them, I was too late to intervene (it was a walk with lots of other parents/children). When DS accidentally hit DSS (and it was definitely an accident, caused by DSS trying to push in front of DS to be the fastest). He screamed and hit out so intensely that by the time I ran up to them, DS was shaking with fear and burst into tears. He couldn't even look at DSS afterwards.

DP did nothing about it. He doesn't seem to want to see it. He spoke to his sons preschool yesterday and concluded that he doesn't do this to other children, so his son is 'not a violent or vicious boy' and it's just a phase.

Well, he is a violent and vicious boy when it comes to my DS. And I know damn well we would be having a different conversation if one of his ex's step children was hitting DSS every single time they were together. Or if one of my boys were hurting DSS every time he came here.

I'm losing all respect for him, and feel less and less like I want to talk about it.

The weekend before last, I was stood in the doorway of our front room when DSS calmly climbed up onto the sofa arm purely so he could hit my DS with a closed fist on the crown of his head, as hard as he could - DS was just watching TV. So my perspective now is very much that it's deliberate, calculated and not a little boy who gets wound up and lashes out. He's targeting DS deliberately. DSS also bites, and has bitten my older son this weekend. This also isn't dealt with.

We're on the edge right now of splitting up. I'm angry and sad that he would let his 4yo set the terms of our relationship rather than parenting him.

WWYD? As most of you experienced step parents know, it's not as simple as walk away. We've been together since the children were 1 - 6 years old, we're getting married next year (if we make it).

Thanks for reading this far. I could say so much more but it's long already.

NFmama Tue 17-May-16 08:44:08

I don't have any solid advice, hopefully someone will have some experience with this but I just wanted to say I'm so sorry you're in this position sad your poor DS! And I would feel exactly the same in regards to your fiancé, he needs to tackle this issue with you and not bury his head in the sand. I really hope it gets resolved for you!

chocoraisin Tue 17-May-16 08:48:34

Thank you. I feel like I can't speak to him about it without him taking it as a global rejection of his son, and him by extension.

The stupid thing is that by not addressing it, that's what it's going to become.

If it were a friends child, we'd stop spending time with them - and when it WAS a friends child who hit DSS, we DID stop seeing them.

I have no contact with DSS's DM, so can't address it via her. It's just depressing and I need him to acknowledge how it's making me feel. Ideally, I want him to admit it would be a huge issue for him if DSS were the victim not the one doing the hitting.

fuzzywuzzy Tue 17-May-16 08:55:42

I would not be marrying a man who's child was taking every opportunity to hurt my children & he'd isn't intervene.

You need to intervene every single time you see DSS hurting or preparing to hurt your DC, he needs the message it's not acceptable and will not be tolerated. As school I've said he doesn't do it at school, he clearly knows right and wrong.

Mostly tho it's your partners fault. He needs to parent his DC.

Bananasinpyjamas1 Tue 17-May-16 08:55:43

That is very tough for you, and you do need to protect your children. These are not one offs but sound like his son is bullying yours. I would be splitting up from my DP over this, he doesn't seem to realise that it is serious. Until you do, I wouldn't be leaving them alone together, and any incidents I'd very clearly be pulling your step son up and disciplining him yourself. Your child needs to see you being able to step in and protect him.

Who knows, maybe this will wake up your DP, who isn't taking it seriously.

I'm still cross with my DP for not taking his daughters put downs of me and my son seriously. I was always the one to intervene, always. It wasn't really, really terrible in the grand scheme of things, but if kids live together even minor put downs over time are bullying. Just because they are kids doens't mean that they have a thick skin or can 'take a few emotional or physical knocks'. Your DP wouldn't put up with a colleague constantly prodding him, why should our kids?

chocoraisin Tue 17-May-16 09:14:38

I do discipline DSS. But I think that's part of the problem, it's making my relationship with him very cool. DP accepts that it happens, but doesn't think it's serious or long term. It's been happening for 6 months. So far, I have

- started separating them whenever it happens.
- stopped letting them play unsupervised.
- removed my children from the house every saturday to see friends or spend time with me, partly because I think DSS wants his dad's attention and I thought it would help, and partly because I refuse to spend my weekends with my kids policing them because of what's going on.
- spoken to DP repeatedly about it, kindly, firmly and recently, very bluntly.

DP knows it's a big problem for me, but because it's not been a big problem for him, he doesn't deal with it well. He gets defensive instead. It's becoming a big problem for us both though because I can't let it go after contact weekends any more and I'm distancing myself from him.

I recognise that he is actually upset about it too though. He got tearful and shut down this weekend when I spoke about it after the scooter incident. My DS's dad has actually called me to ask why DS is getting hurt all the time and I told DP that, which I think broke through the barrier a little.

The problem is partly that he doesn't want to spend the 4 days a fortnight he sees his son, constantly disciplining him. But I won't let those 4 days be scary for my DS.

I've also suggested he make more contact between visits, call, write letters etc (there is a 90 minute drive between homes) to reduce DSS's anger about his daddy living with my sons. He doesn't think this is the reason it's happening so isn't really up for doing anything about it (I think the difficult relationship with his ex is a stumbling block there).

DSS is the baby in his main house and frankly I think he is used to being the cute little one who gets away with acting out. In our house the kids are all close in age and expectations of behaviour are uniform (from me anyway) which he gets massively cross about.

Honestly, I don't think I'll be rushing to get married any time soon either if this isn't solved properly. I think we need a mediator of some kind to have the conversation though!! Genuinely looking into finding one this weekend so we can have it out properly. Has anyone done this with success?

chocoraisin Tue 17-May-16 09:19:06

He does discipline DSS over other things, so often they are at loggerheads over things like DSS being stubborn and refusing to let his dad help him (think tying shoes, refusing a coat etc) and DP gets really cross with him for being obstinate or rude. I often see them fall out over something like this, and then see DS get the flack as a result. DP doesn't (as far as I can tell) see the link.

One major challenge with talking about it is that I teach parenting classes for my job (haha - funny/not funny) so DP takes any suggestion/criticism of his parenting as me 'counselling him' or trying to tell him what to do. Which I frankly, would love to do because I have some very good ideas - but he gets pissed off at the mere mention of them!!

I'm going round in circles and losing the will tbh.

Scarydinosaurs Tue 17-May-16 09:41:54

I think what you've reached here is ultimately a conflicted world view: you aren't ever going to agree on how to disciple siblings/step siblings and it is just going to get worse. You sound as if you see him as fundamentally different to you, and I'm not sure how anyone overcomes that?

For what it's worth, from reading your posts you sound as if you have a great deal of love and affection for both your sons- DSS, and DS, and you only want what is best for them. I'm sorry you're in this situation. For me the only possible option would be to leave and break up the family, I couldn't stand to see my DDs mistreated like your DS has been without both parents punishing and working to ensure it doesn't happen again.

chocoraisin Tue 17-May-16 09:57:51

I'm scared you're right dinosaurs. It does feel like we just have a really opposing world view which is so sad. We couldn't have known until it got to this kind of problem what we'd do about it - and now we're 'all in' it's so hard to just detach and get out. I don't want to give up, but I'm at a loss as to how to repair it.

I do love them both. I want them both to be happy. But I can't magic that on my own, DP has to help. sad

MeridianB Tue 17-May-16 10:43:56

So this is a five-year-old hitting a four-year-old?

It made me very sad to read this and you need to keep protecting your son. I can't believe that your DP allows this to continue.

Fuzzy and Bananas are spot on with their views/advice.

Have you made that point to your DP, about what if his son was doing this to a friend's child or in school?

I'm afraid this would be a serious dealbreaker for me. Sorry if I missed it but do you live together? If not, just don't see him when he has the children. He's not taking you or your son's needs seriously and might finally step up if you step back.

chocoraisin Tue 17-May-16 10:56:11

we do live together sad for 7 months. Coincidentally, since this all kicked off (I think it's an obvious link).

coffeeisnectar Tue 17-May-16 11:01:25

Is there anywhere else he can have the kids once a fortnight? i'd be suggesting that he has them at his parents for instance and see what he says. If he asks why then you have your answer - he's just not seeing what's going on.

I do think that part time dads (some of them) can be very reluctant to discipline their children because they see them so rarely and feel that they should be the Good parent while they are there and it should all be fun, fun, fun and no telling off or asking them to do something they don't want to do.

Unfortunately where that goes wrong is when they do finally have to say no years later that the real problems start and the child decides not to visit dad anymore because dad is suddenly being mean by saying no. If it was normal from the start this wouldn't happen.

Can you tell I'm talking from experience here? grin I've had four years of dp being disney to his youngest dd who can do no wrong in his eyes, she's his perfect princess (his actually fucking words - pass the sick bowl). Couldn't see all the times she deliberately hurt my youngest and all the times she caused rows by accusing me of stealing her things. The last visit (just after christmas) she went to meet a friend, then sent a text asking to stay at her friends for dinner (I said at this point, she's going to ask to sleep over - no she won't says dp, she wouldn't do that) and then he got the text saying she wants to stay over. Dp hadn't seen his dd since September so said no as she was only with us for four days and that triggered the most godawful row between them. She refused to come home, he was telling her she needed to. She started texting that it's not her fault he never sees her as her mum tells him when she's free (she doesn't) and he chooses to do other stuff rather than see her. He eventually picked her up at 9pm and spoke to her but that was the last time we had her here and now she's refusing to talk to him. It's her birthday in a couple of days and she won't even answer her phone to him.

If you partner doesn't start parenting his son soon then at some point your child is going to end up in A&E. At some point you could end up with social services on your door step or a custody battle with your ex who will get fed up with your son being attacked. This has to be stopped and if he doesn't then I don't think you have much option other than to break up with him.

Lunar1 Tue 17-May-16 11:59:57

How often does your ex have the children? Could you switch things round so your stepchildren and children only do one weekend together a month?

Bananasinpyjamas1 Tue 17-May-16 13:54:42

Oh I feel for you choco - sounds like you are disciplining him which is good for your son.

Some separated parents especially Dad's seem to get in a bid for the child's affection and love over being a parent. My DP did and their Mum. I don't think it is different parenting, I think one is parenting (yours) and his isn't!

Your DP could always take his kids off for days out, spend plenty of one to one, encourage his kid to see the advantages of someone his age, and be clear that he can't hit or be aggressive full stop. It's so hard on you to do this all the time. And it doesn't bear well for the future either, what if you have a stroppy teenage DSS who is being rude and resentful to you and your DP doesn't intervene? My DSD ended up resenting me because I was the only one who pulled her up for being rude, I had to, she was taking it out on my son.

swingofthings Tue 17-May-16 15:07:46

Surely you or your partner has asked the question 'why are you hitting X'. That's not telling off, that's trying to understand. Your OH has a point that if he doesn't do it at school with another kid, it is an issue at home, with your DS. So what's that issue?

chocoraisin Tue 17-May-16 17:53:59

I have been asking him swing DP is the one who doesn't think it's to do with him being here, or him having a jealousy issue.

When I ask him DSS says he does it because he likes to, it makes him feel better and he doesn't want to stop. He doesn't care if DS is hurt and he isn't going to try to do anything different. What exactly do I do with that??

Am thinking of trying one more approach, and getting DP to do some love bombing with him. Every time he acts out reminding him how much we love him and what a good kid he is, and that these bad choices just hide the little boy we both love. See if being very affirming helps. If it doesn't, I'm pretty much out of options.

swingofthings Tue 17-May-16 18:43:31

It sou DS like he is jealous of your DS and so taking it or on him. I think the best approach is to try to help him express his feelings whilst disciplining him when he does it.

Wdigin2this Tue 17-May-16 18:54:57

I'm sorry but, this would be a deal breaker for me! If your fiancé can't/won't deal with his son's behaviour, it won't get better, it's much more likely to get worse as they get older!
What if your DS is knocked over and breaks a bone, what if he's pushed into a busy road, what about the emotional damage this is doing to him?
If he's badly hurt, you'll never forgive yourself

mn11783 Tue 17-May-16 18:59:39

It comes across like you DSS is finding it hard to articulate some BIG feelings he's having right now. From his point of view his mum and dad aren't together any more, his dad is living with another family and he has 2 extra brothers, none of which he asked for. But you are expecting him to be ok with, all before he's 5.

I think you need to step back from the situation and see it for what it is. Take away your emotional response as the mother whose son is on the end of some pretty nasty behaviour, and see a little boy who is clearly having trouble understanding his place in his new family.

If the situation was reversed, would you appreciate your DP constantly suggesting how you could be a better parent, how you should raise your DC and how your failing in his eyes?

Wdigin2this Tue 17-May-16 19:15:46

mn I'm sure what you've described is correct, of course this little boy has emotional issues about, a) his parents splitting up, and b) his dad now living with 2 other little boys.....huge things for him to deal with!
But, the OP, must consider her own DC's welfare first, and if her fiancé cannot deal with it, she sure as hell cant do it for him! If this situation is allowed to continue unresolved, either the OP's DS will be severely, physically or emotionally damaged....and that must be her first priority!

TendonQueen Tue 17-May-16 19:17:55

It's very sad all round for all of you, reading this. However, I'm left with two feelings: a) you are the last line of defence for your younger son and ultimately you have to do whatever is necessary to stop him being hurt. And b) your partner is not helping by not facing up to his own younger son's bad behaviour and, as other posters have said, this will come back to bite him later.

Is there anywhere you and your boys could go for the next scheduled contact period with his boys? You shouldn't have to do this, but it might help emphasise that if he doesn't get on side with you, the only thing to do is keep them apart - regrettably, on a permanent basis if nothing changes.

mn11783 Tue 17-May-16 19:38:29

How about if the situation was slightly different.....

What if the op was married to her dp and all 4 children were theirs. Now imagine a situation where the youngest brother was picked on by his older brother (for no good reason) and the dad wasn't an expert at resolving it (shocking, I know!)? Doesn't sound completely unfamiliar, and I'm sure most of us would use the words "normal" , or "it's to be expected".

Now, while I'm not excusing anyone's behaviour, I am just trying to give a different perspective for the op. Some of you are suggesting she doesn't marry a man because he isn't sure how to cope with his sons behaviour! I don't want to make assumptions, but it's probably fair to say none of us in his position are gonna find that easy.

ArmfulOfRoses Tue 17-May-16 19:58:27

"What if" isn't much good though is it?
If they were full siblings then op would be able to discipline the instigator but they're not and she can't.

And actually, if one parent was refusing to see one dc deliberately and repeatedly hurting a younger sibling, and therefore do nothing about it, then my advice might still be to separate.

MeridianB Tue 17-May-16 20:49:14

Wdigin is right - how can it ever get better if you cannot make a difference to an upset DSS and his Dad is in denial?

And the point about your DS's dad is also very true - he'd be within his rights to step in if this continues.

It's very constructive of you to try the love bombing. I hope it works and doesn't look (to your son) as if DSS is being rewarded for being horrible.

Mostly, your DS needs to know you will always protect him. It's sad to think of you both dealing with this every other weekend.

I really feel for you, OP. Your DP is lucky you are prepared to try hard to make it work - many women would have moved out by now.

ProphetOfDoom Tue 17-May-16 21:27:25

It's almost a weird form of relationship sabotage because what on earth does he think will be the consequences? Presumably DP would come down pretty firmly if both boys were biologically his - and he's doing his ds any favours by not.

I think maybe because of your job, despite his objections to your 'counselling' him, he's actually expecting you to manage his child so he can get on and be fun dad. Well, that's not how it works - families have to pull together. You've come to him with a problem and it's up to him to fully parent his child.

Otherwise what are your options? I'd skedaddle with my dcs when they came over only to protect my own but long term that's not viable.

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