July 14, 2008,
R.B. asks from Saint Cloud, FL on July 07, 2008
My Husband Can;t Get Along with My Son from Another Relationship
I need some help on how to go about this, My husband CAN'T seem to get along with my son(his step-son)and it causes us to fight All THE TIME!!! It seems that my son can do nothing right in his eyes. My son is 12 almost 13 and my husband and i have been together since he was 6. They used to get along i don't know what happened. He gets along with my daughter ( his step daughter)fine. And everytime my husband talks to my son it seems that he is always putting him down because he can't do something right,Instead of him saying look this is how it is to be done! It starts from the minute we wake up til we go to bed and i am getting worn out from it. Yes my son is going through the pre-teen stage and he can be arguementative at times and likes to backtalk but what teen doesn't! I feel like i have to take sides all the time. And it is tearing my marriage apart.My husband always tells me OHH he is your special child! And then he will resort to calling me names when i stick up for my son.Any advice on how to get them to get along? My husband and i also have a child together and he is 3 but my husband isn't hard on him at all compared to my son.
C.C. answers from Orlando on July 08, 2008
I think that this is very serious, and family counseling would be the best thing. There could be a thousand different reasons behind this behavior -- your husband sounds jealous of your son... maybe he has other things going on in his life?? work stresses?? maybe he feels unappreciated at home and is taking it out on your son?? There are so many possible answers to the cause; meanwhile, your son is being emotionally beat up on a regular basis which is definitely not good for his growing-up process.
If it were me (which it actually was years ago) I would go get professional help (I didn't because I was clueless, and I ended up leaving the man; my son turned out pretty good). Your husband needs someone else to convince him of the potential long-term damage he is doing to the boy so that he will stop and then find another outlet for whatever ails him. Once he backs off then you will no longer feel the need to protect him, and then your husband will stop feeling jealous.
But I really think that outside counseling would be the best answer at this point. Also, do you ever listen to Dr. Laura? she deals with this subject frequently: she's on AM radio 1520 at lunchtime.
When adults resort to name-calling it generally signifies a serious problem/issue that desperately needs to be dealt with.
I sincerely hope that things turn around quickly in your home!
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L.S. answers from Orlando on July 08, 2008
This period of time is difficult for any parent, and it sounds like your husband is having a particularly hard time dealing with it, perhaps due to other stressors (with work, life in general?) My guess is that his stress and inability to cope is so high that it has caused him, basically, to give up, with the excuse, "It's not my son" (biologically speaking). But I'm guessing he has been the father for the past six years and has been instrumental in raising this child to become what he is. He is only going to hurt himself and his ability to deal with his biological son when he enters this developmental stage if he doesn't "get back in the game". He needs to be the father again, loving the kid as much like a father as he can. But it sounds like he needs a lot of help and support. In a case like this I would highly recommend a good psychologist or counselor, primarily for marriage and family counseling (I'm guessing this is more a parenting thing than a child thing). I don't think fighting with him is going to help, as it will only add to his stress and make his shut-down worse. I would try to repeat back to him what you hear him saying and how you think he's feeling, both so you can understand how he feels but most importantly so he can see that you're trying to understand him, in order to reduce his stress and renew some energy for him to be able to "parent" again. If he's resistive to counseling, I would gently point out that this would be a great opportunity for him to get practice and advice in dealing with teen and preteen issues before he has to do it with his own biological child. In other words, "just try, and make your mistakes here, so you won't make them on your own child" -- since right now the crux of the matter is that he isn't even trying.
It's a tough challenge you have on your plate; I applaud you for all you do. It will be really hard to put aside your own feelings (especially as a parent) in order to put yourself in his shoes, and it will also be hard to NOT fight with him. I would just keep, in the back of your mind, the reminder that understanding (or pretending to understand) him isn't the same as agreeing with him, and that you'll be better off saving judgements of him (your husband) until he's capable of hearing them. In other words, stay quiet and listen. And spend extra time with your son reminding him of how wonderful he is, and that what comes from your husband isn't necessarily about him - it's the husband's issues.
I wish it were easier! Good luck!
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E.C. answers from Orlando on July 07, 2008
I can't think of anything other than the obvious. Counciling. There has to be a root to the change in behavior...and him calling you names is unexceptable. Is he going through a midlife crisis? Is he having problems at work and reflecting them on your son? And, God forbid, please don't hate me for asking, but could he be having an affair? I'm just going thru the possibilities. And what about your son? The "constant" belittling isn't healthy for anyone's mentality.
I have no answers, but you can look at your own family and see the changes that need to be made from within. Follow your heart and seek whats best for your family and your children. YOu are in a hard place. I wish you the best.
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T.T. answers from Pensacola on July 08, 2008
I am sorry to hear that you are going through this with your husband. What I am about to tell you is only my opinion I am not telling you what to do if you do it then that is on you. But if it was me in this situation I would try counciling see how that works. If it still continued then I would have to resort to my husband finding another place to stay.Because you need to look after your children and yourself. Because I have three children and one is by a previous relationship and my husband has been her daddy since birth so they had a chance to bond.But if he was to treat my daughter and I the way your husband is treating you and your son then he would have to go. because my kids come first. Yes, teenagers talk back but sometimes there is a reason why the do it. So if your son is getting argumentive with your husband it sounds to me he is getting tired of the way your husband treats him and you. My thing is I am thinking if you and your son have a special bond then your husband is jealous of that and that is no way to be. This may not be the case. I am not even going to try and blame it on work, or stress because that is not an excuse for treating your son the way he does. Everyone can give you their thoughts, ideas, advice what have you but you are the one who has to live in this situation and you are the one who has to do what is right for you and your children. So follow your heart and you decide to do what you think is best. Good luck and I hope things work out for you.
E.L. answers from Tallahassee on July 08, 2008
Hey, R.~ My initial thought is your husband is the adult and should act right, HOWEVER, as we all know, men don't grow up. This might seem crazy, but now that your son is becoming a man, there is more testosterone in the house and your husband is reacting like an alpha dog. He might see his territory as being threatened and that's why he belittles your son and your reaction to the situation. He sounds jealous and no man will never admit to that. As I've learned with all the men in my life (father, husband, boss), you have to make them think everything is their idea. Maybe just you and your husband go to dinner and talk about it without your son around. This way he won't feel like he's being ganged up on, won't be as defensive, and might be more open to finding a solution. Put it out there that you feel a lot of tension in the house, which should be everyone's sanctuary after a long day. Ask him if he's noticed and what he thinks (hopefully he'll start venting and venting is like therapy to me). I think the final solution could be for them to spend time alone (fishing, hunting, sports, etc), reconnect, and form a new bond. With a new bond they would respect each other more and hopefully only grow closer in the future.
Take care and keep us posted! E.
A.M. answers from Daytona Beach on July 14, 2008
Couseling, Counseling, Counseling.
R., the fact that your husband calls you names gives rise to concern.
The first question that popped into my head when reading this was, I wonder if this is how your husband was raised by his father.?. In no way does it make the way he is not even trying to get along with your son right but it would explain a few things.
Now where do you go from here - Many men are not willing to spill their feelings out to a stranger so it's time to get creative. Is there a man in your lives that you respect and could ask to help guide your husband.?. Do you belong to a church where you could call on the pastor/youth minister to assist.?. How about looking into studies (I know them as bible studies)/games/etc that might help bring the family together. The goal is to get your husband to open up and start looking at how he acts and figuring out why he is the way he is.
Remember the game 20 questions - How about playing that one between you and your husband. Start out with the small stuff. Communication and openness won't happen overnight so you still have to be patient but if your husband is not willing to try anything then you need to figure out what is best for you, your son, and your other children.
R.C. answers from Orlando on July 08, 2008
do you not notice that he is both mean and disrespectful to you as well? this is some one who clearly does not know how to cominicate with some one who has a different opionon than him.. family therapy might help.
G.O. answers from Jacksonville on July 08, 2008
I went through a similar situation. My step-son was 13. He is now living with his grandfather. My husband thought might have to choose between me and his son. I learned to just let my husband deal with him and that is hard to do. Now, my husband is very critical of my 9 yr old. I never corrected my step-son but he corrects my daughter all the time. I hope he learns what I did. So my advice is to get some counseling. We got some through our church pastor but you may want to go to a recommended professional. Also, every situation is different but 13 is a very hard time for a teenager and your husband should let you correct him. In addition, he needs to support your choice of punishment. It's hard, I know, but our marriage was suffering and that was the answer. Your son would benefit from your husband just being a friend to him and spend plenty of family time together too!