60 answers

Help! His Kids Are Driving Me Crazy...

I'm treading on unfamiliar territory and am in need of some advice or some encouragement! I've been dating a wonderful man for almost 8 months. He and I have so much in commom except our parenting styles. I have two daughters, 12 and 8. He has one daughter 12 and a son 8. Its like having two sets of twins, except for the fact that his children are demanding, ungrateful and totally indulged by him and his ex wife. The daughter is sneaky and the son is rude. He yells and calls his dad names, ie. idiot. Their mother in the past hasn't allowed him to be the parent he has desired be. The kids are so conditioned to this way of "running" their parents that I'm afraid that its going to be a constant conflict between their dad and me. I'm also concerned that my own children will become impatient and resentful of their behavior. They get irritated with them already and don't understand why they act like they do. I operate in a very proactive way of parenting where he manages in a more reactive manner which isn't consistent by any means. I try to talk to him about the situation and he desires to have different results from his children but just doesn't know how to attain it. How do we come to mutual ground on our parenting styles? It would break my heart if this issue destroyed our relationship. I notice that he is nervous when his kids are around. He seems worried about what I am thinking in regards to their behavior and his lack of parenting. I think there is a big difference b/w being a good dad and being a good parent. He seems a little more focused on showing them fun times. I hear lots of comments like; "they'll grow out of it, or "That's just boys." I'm interested in knowing about any recommended books to read on blending families together and keeping them together. I want to spend my life with him and be good parents to all four of the children. Please help.

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

This is not going to change. You have to decide if you can live with it or not. It's a hard thing to do either way but that's really what you have to do.

I suggest you go to counseling and go to someone really experienced in family issues. Ask around - lots of people will be able to recommend someone from experience.

I would suggest blended family therapy with a professional. Book's will not be enough with children that have all ready started displaying behavior that may be reflective from the parents tension and stress of a bad marriage.

More Answers

C. - I am all too familiar with this scenario and from my experience, if your partner does not make serious changes, it will not be the relationship you want nor your girls need. Your girls will take a back seat because the focus will never be on them, it will be on the other two children.

I was one of those women, like your partners' ex. I would never let my husband come down on my boys and it was more because of my own issues with men, not to mention the whole "80's psychology" thing about feelings over authoritarianism.

I had many friends who also ran their parenting in the same direction. The dads would be the kids' friends more than taking responsibility as the real parent role re discipline, demanding respect, and not tolerating inappropriate behavior.

I can tell you and your partner that all of us paid a huge price with our kids by the time they hit age 13/14 and even worse when they were 16 and over. These kids pretty much thought they were invincible and began more and more not to respect any authority - all because their parents thought it would be better if the father role was that of friend, partner, buddy, listener, etc... and all of our kids got into trouble.

Now, these were all kids who began being very intelligent, academically and otherwise, many of them excelled in sports, etc... ALL the kids got into drugs, they lied, they began having problems in school with their teachers and coaches because "they" were always right and all authority was not to be respected or appreciated - they learned much of this at home, as we cushioned our kids far too much.

ALL of our kids raised like this gave us heartache, constant problems, disrupted our family and their siblings completely, and ended up costing huge amounts of money - many of them, when they got their driver's lic. - drove recklessly, irresponsibly or under the influence; some went on to college but partied and continued to be irresponsible, etc... dropping out because they had to.

These kids are all from 18 yrs - 23 years now and are all paying huge prices to re-learn what we as parents did not "get". We all let these kids down, thinking that we would love them easily and gently. This is not the love that children need. I know now that kids need serious parenting and that takes total commitment and responsibility. The boys need a very strong father to keep them in line - the kids these days are very challenging and questioning and they need stronger parenting for these needs. When I say "strong fathering" I mean strong mentally - not to let the kids get away with inappropriate behavior, not to be afraid of the kids - in a parents' needing approval, not wanting to be the "bad guy" or wanting to just be their friend - that will never work and it lets the kids down in a horrid way.

Whether kids admit it or not, they want their parents in control at all times. They need to count on them to be firm and unyielding in boundaries and show the kids that kind of respect. All of the kids I saw parented in this way ended up doing extremely well in their young adult lives.

I hope you can share this story with your partner. We would have given anything for someone to tell us this information. If your partner truly does love his children then he needs to make changes - not easy, but crucial to their stability for the rest of their life. It will bring up much/issues with his ex. However, if he truly loves his kids, he must step up to the plate and take his role more seriously and know the power and the love he can give as a father, in the way he must so that his kids can depend on him.

I don't know if Family First- Dr. Phil, is a good book but think it may help, as I have not read much on this issue, unfortunately, but rather talked a lot with many people.

Also their are local agencies (Child Guidance ###-###-####, although they have a waiting list you/your partner can talk with Sherri and see what she may have to add to help your partner.) and therapists that can deal well with these issues - two I would recommend - Lynn Henton, PhD, (works very well with teens/pre-teens) ###-###-####; and Annie Drake (who wrote a book recently about teen parenting) ###-###-####. I believe they both take insurance. I would recommend that he just go and see one of these women once or twice to re-set and get information, unless he is willing to take the kids in and get therapy which also wouldn't be a bad idea as much has been already set with his kids. He can do it - it may take a few months or even up to a year to straighten everything out but he MUST be dedicated to his kids to make such changes. He is the one who has to change, as I am sure you are aware that you cannot do this for him. But you can surely support him through it and it will change his life and the lives of his children for the better. They will all feel a new and different kind of love that is life-bonding and not short term.

If he does not take this seriously, C., you will suffer as will your girls, not to mention his children, and I am sure you already know this. I hope for your sake and all your childrens' sakes that he can have the strength in him to look at this realistically. He will need much support as his ex will probably fight him on this immensely. Good luck to you and all concerned.

Alli

2 moms found this helpful

I think this is a very true concern and one that you should be very proactive in, but those are not your children, they are his.
It sounds as though he's conflicted on how to parent, be a parent, an ex-husband, and now a boyfriend. He has to choose what is the most important of these, but so do you.
If he is nervous and avoidant of his children's behaviors, this is only going to get worse as the children get older and it will eventually cause a rift between you and him.
My 2 cents is step back from the relationship and give him the room he needs to become the parent he wants to be.
Right now, he's spreading himself too thin with trying to be good to you and them, but he's still trying to figure out what kind of parent he says he would like to be. PRoblem is, he isn't doing them any favors by giving excuses, avoiding their bad issues, or trying to be only the fun parent.
You've got your grounding, great kids, a solid head on your shoulders, he doesn't. It sounds like not only do his kids need to be disciplined, but so does he. He's being avoidant and immature about being a parent.
YOu're right, there is a difference between being a dad and a parent, some people never accept those, but there are very deep reasons he's divorced and if his wife treated him and probably still does treat him as his kids do, this situation is going to get worse before it gets better, if it does at all.
You should step back from the situation, tell him you want to give him room to breathe and get thorugh this difficult time with him, his kids, and his ex-wife. Don't be accusitory, say it's more for him than you and put a positive spin on it. See how he reacts. If he's truly wanting to make them better, make the relationship better between he and his kids and any future female, he'll accept the breakup as a good thing, but still heartbreaking. If he pitches a big fit, makes excuses, acts like a child, we you know you've chosen the right avenue for this one. YOu're not his mother, his mentor, his teacher, you're wanting to be his equal and you have to decide if you want to be equal to someone who makes excuses for bad behavior.
He, his kids, and ex-wife may need family councilling (I know I spelled that wrong) and you don't need to be there to be the "she said we should get help" or "she said if I didn't do this, she'd leave me" person. If his wife is treating him like a child, she's not going to be receptive at all to get help for all of them.
Give him no reason, other than his own desire to improve his relationship with his kids and his own self to want to make this a better situation. When he gets a grasp on this situation, then you can talk about getting back into the relationship. YOu can decide what period of time that is or you can simply say we'll see how this all works out.
Or you may find this relationship is far too complicated and toxic for you and your kids. YOu do have to consider the long-term because his and your kids are entering into their "rebellious" years and if this is how his kids act now, it's only going to get worse, especially if he does nothing but react to his kids bad behavior instead of cut it off before it gets bad.
You sound like a great, confident, solid woman, don't take on the role of mother, mentor, and fixer-upper with this. It isn't a situation you can fix or treat. It's all up to him and you need to keep only great, productive, lovely things in your life and the lives of your children.
Don't get me wrong, companionship is a wonderful thing, but only when it's enjoyed and cherished from both parties or in this case, all parties involved.
Take care of yourself and your kids first, let him do the same. If he's happier with his family, he'll be overjoyed with yours.
Many blessings and keep us posted!
P.

1 mom found this helpful

What you're seeing isn't a phase, its the direct result of how they've been raised and it won't change until the dad starts acting like a father and forces the change in his house. Let their mother do as she pleases, let them disrespect her, but the rules in Dad's house need to change if the kids are ever going to change. I know you love this guy, but if he doesn't do something about this, you will be dealing with two bratty kids the rest of your life.

My brother in law has the same EXACT situation. He just remarried and his new wife is trying to put a few simple rules down... like you take your own clothes to the laundry and your own plate to the kitchen... not very much to ask of 12 and 8 year olds (his kids are that age too, 12 yr old girl, 8yo boy). The kids have never been made to do anything and never been disciplined. Needless to say she has her work cut out for her and the entire situation is a horribly messy because these kids are so spoiled rotten. I feel sorry for her, maybe i am not that strong, but if i were in her shoes, i would have walked away after getting one dose of those kids.

I think it is a tendency of divorced parents to indulge their children out of some sense of guilt over the divorce. What they don't get is that they aren't doing the kids any favors when they do this...

1 mom found this helpful

Well, I happen to not have much advice...because I am in a very similar situation myself! Except I within the last month married the man I have dated for four years, me having a 5yr daughter, and he having a 5yr old son. So I can relate to the twin situation! His son has not been fortunate to have a good mother, so he also is rude, inconsiderate, disrespectful, and can completely disrupt our entire household each time we have him. Of course, this eventually causes problems between my husband and I. I know I knew what I was getting into as we dated for so long, but I always thought things would get better with his son, that us showing him our love and giving him a routine at our home would help, but I hate to say in our situation it has gotten worse. I feel so sorry for my husband because he happens to be a great father, and I couldn't ask for my daughter to have a better step father. The truth is there is nothing we can do about their children, especially about the way the other mothers have raised them and formed their personality. The best we can do is continue to give them the love, routine and discipline when you have the other children. Trust me, it is not easy and not sure if it will ever be! But when you love someone you tend to put up with or accept special circumstances! I wish you the best and let me know if you come across some great advice that works for you!!

A.

C., I don't want to sound insensitive but perhaps for your sanity and that of your children you need to leave this situation. Take some time away from "The Guy", consider all of the reasons you want to stay with him and raise your kids together. Consider also what it could mean for your children. How do the four children interact with each other? From experience I know that your children will continue to need you to be available to them through high school and into college. If the his kids are going to put a hard edge to home life then your children need the opportunity to tell you what they think. So, after you've given it much thought and prayer sit down with them and ask what they think; about the guy, his kids, maybe becoming a family some day, etc.
Hope this helps. Mary

I've heard that Love and Logic is really good. Have you considered family counseling? I think that would be your best bet since men aren't always that interested in reading about how to become a better parent. You can't fix this for him, he has to be ready to do the hard work too.

I suggest you go to counseling and go to someone really experienced in family issues. Ask around - lots of people will be able to recommend someone from experience.

Sweetheart, you need to turn and run for the hills. This is coming from a 63 yr. old mother of 3 grandmother of 4 boys.

You don't stand a chance with these kids. Not only will these spoiled children resent you but he will start to as well. It is not worth putting yourself or your children thru.
I am speaking from experience. I married a man with a 9 yr old daug. that ruled his housewhole in every way. Right down to the kind of TP he bought. I thought I could love her and change her. She nearly drove me crazy. I have a daug. who was 18 mos. younger than her and she was constantly doing things to my daug. because my daug. was smarter in school and more popular than her. One day she put dog shampoo and bleach in my daugs. shampoo bottle. That was the final straw.
I loved this man with all my heart but him and her had to go for the protection of my daug. and me. PLEASE, trust me on this.

No matter how much you love him you will never be a winner in this situation.

J. Ratley === ____@____.com

You owe it to your children to NOT have him parent them. When they graduate from High School, and are launched from your nest, then I would concider a romance - till then, your children deserve better.
Good luck!
T. S.

C.,

I would like to commend you for your efforts on a blended family lifestyle, it is not always easy. This seems like a common problem that we all have. I see that you're kids notice his children behaving differently than most kids. I think you should first talk with your boyfriend and discuss your parenting styles and make such rules for all the children to follow. Then maybe speak with your children with or without your boyfriend to let them know you and your boyfriend are the parents and will correct any behavior that is unwanted by the other children.
I think your boyfriend is also apprehensive on being the best father he wants to be, and at the same time not have his children resent him. You probably cant get him to have the same parenting style as you, but who's to say you can't come to a common understanding. :) I dont know if you're religious or not, but I found this GREAT Christian book by Kay Adkins, "'Im Not Your Kid' a Christian's guide to a healthy stepfamily". This has helped me and my husband in working with our blended family. Best of luck Hope this helps!

Suzanne Duncan is here in Austin. I don't have her contact information, but I would guess you could google her or something. My ex-husband and I have very different parenting styles and we both went to a workshop put on by her. She was more than amazing--common sense, no nonsense style but in a caring way (so my ex could more easily accept it.) Our daughter is 5, but Suzanne provided information for older kids to other parents in the audience. She has a wonderful toolbox for teaching parents how to parent/teach kids. Sounds like it is what he needs and is asking for. Good luck!

Do not walk away from this relationship, RUN away. You will never have priority over his children, they will always come first regardless of what kind of relationship you have. His kids are not infants, do you honestly think they became the type of kids they are overnight? Along with his ex, he also contributed to their upbringing. Please do not delude yourself thinking you can change his behavior towards them or their attitude towards their own father, you can't. You can only change your own surroundings and that means your own children. If you are happy and have a healthy relationship with your own children, you are truly blessed. Somewhere, sometime down the road in life you will find happiness but this time around avoid a disaster waiting to happen in your life.

It doesn't sound to me like you are very confident that he will want to improve on his parenting skills. He sounds like he wants to be their "friends" rather than their father. If you truly feel this is the case then things will not change. Your girls will however. Please keep that in mind. This is a very difficult situation you're in. Good luck!

Hi C.,

I haven't read any books on blending families, but I read one on siblings. It is called SIBLINGS WITHOUT RIVALRY. It was written by two moms who both have six kids. It may help so please check it out. Good luck and God bless you and your future family.
M. K

Hello C.. I too am in a blended marriage. We've now been married for 20 years. We entered this marriage, he with 3 children, me with 1 (no kids together). Even with good mannered children a blended family brings very unique challenges. I'll dig around for some good books to recommend for you. In the meantime, I want to tell you about a wonderful "Family Matters" series of sermons that is currently being done in Huntsville and each sermon can be accessed via the computer. The series started in Janauary and EVERY SINGLE sermon has been incredibly intelligent in providing biblical advice on (basically) how to be good parents, how to discipline, etc. The website is: http://www.fohc.org/monthly_news.html . To whet your appetite, I encourage you view the sermon titled "Before its Too Late" on 03/02/08. Then, if you're interested, go back to January and listen to each sermon as you have time. Maybe you and your honey can set aside a little time each week to listen to a sermon - and then discuss it together to see where you both can improve yourself and your parenting in your blended household. Enter it with an open mind, willing to change and improve for the better. Its such good stuff! I really wish I'd had this info when I was raising our kids. Next thought... if you don't already include God in your relationship with your honey, I highly recommend it. Sharing an intimate relationship with God - with your honey - is sooooo sexy and gratifying. It really takes the pressure off of you two and places everything in God's hands - and allows you to work together on the tough issues. Please feel free to e-mail me if you'd like: ____@____.com wishes for you both. K.

Blended families are hugely difficult for that very reason that parenting styles can differ so much. I have heard that blended family marriages are less likely to succeed. I'm not trying to discourage you but I am in a blended family. My husband has 3 daughters and I have 2 sons. The kids are mostly grown now except my son who is 14 but it was his daughter and my older son besides my 14 year old that we have raised (I was with his daughter from the age of 12). They are the same age so I can so relate to the twin thing and I got to have them together right at that hormonal stage so I had one angry son and one hysterical daughter. My husband and I have been married almost 9 years and we love each other very much and are very committed to each other and the only times we ever argue is over the kids. I am not consistent with discipline and more a nurterer and he is mostly discipline and very little relationship. So you should be concerned about the problems you are anticipating and it will be a problem. It depends on how committed you are and how willing you both are to work on the issues.

C.,
Yours is a very difficult situation. Do not think that just loving each other will solve the issues of blending two groups of children. At this age it will be difficult for you to step in and understand raising a son. Raising & communicating with sons is very different than girls - very. Girls more easily talk through hurts and changes, boys will quietly internalize and sometimes hid emotional issues. Children may latently want to hinder the new relationship thinking they can protect their other parent. The children need guidance as much or more than the adults in blending 2 families.

Comparing the two sets of children is obvious to the children, which will make things even worse. They already hurt, they are confused and torn; even a stable child will feel vulnerable when experiencing adult failures. That is what divorce is when we get to the core. I know, I've been where you are now. We failed because we did not prepare the children properly. 20 years later and it still hurts; it is obvious now that we didn't prepare and work with the children as we should have. Don't compare the outward reactions of the kids, and don't compare the boy with the girls - remember Mars / Venus doesn't apply just to adults. Sons also tend to be protective of their Mother whether they admit or even realize it or not.

Take your time, your love will survive the wait while the children come to terms with the idea of this new relationship. Sincerely nvite God to the party, keep communication open with the children, and help them see all things are possible. Good luck!

Personally I would run fast.

I have taken in a rude/demanding/spoiled/neglected/foul mouthed kid and it did effect my kids.

No matter what you do it will effect them.

You can't make a rude kid suddenly love people and be nice--takes a lot of time and a lot of pain (as in biting their tongue and saying the nice comment).

You can't make a normal kid NOT absorb some of the nastiness and become full of attitude and brattiness themself.

My wonderful eater suddenly started complaining about meals. I already knew what he did not like, but he knew better than to dictate meals to me. Once the rude stepped in ....that went out the window. So suddenly I had 2 rude kids telling me what they would and would not eat, instead of politely asking if they may eat x instead of y. We are still retraining him...a year after the rude kid has gone!!

That is just a small example. There are much larger ones, but I don't need to give all details of it here.

I am just saying, tell him that you really like him, but your kids are your first priority. His kids behavior is not on the same standard as yours. His parenting style is different than yours and therefore ya'll would not be able to blend smoothly.

If you do try to blend, I can tell you right now it will be at the cost of your own kids and your relationship with them.

Good luck

When I married my husband, he had an 8 year old son and I had no children, so our situations are different, but it was still extremely difficult to blend our family. When we added a baby 5 years later, the difficulty increased again. I can completely empathize with your frustration at your boyfriend's lack of consistent discipline. My husband simply had no clue, so he indulged his son. The result was a terror who grew into a teenage terror until my husband sought help and decided to learn some parenting skills and step up to the plate. Thank God he did, because our marriage would not have survived otherwise!! Besides a terrific family counselor, some books that were a lifesaver for us are: Boundaries with Kids by Drs. Henry Cloud and John Townsend, The Smart Stepfamily by Ron L. Deal, and for me, The Stepmom's Guide to Simplifying Your Life by Karon Phillips Goodman. The first two books literally saved our marriage. Of course, it took action on our parts, especially my husband's because it was his child and he had to be "the bad guy" to the kid. I'd like to say that things turned out great with me and the kid (now 17), but it was always difficult because he resented living with me instead of his own mother. He never has liked me, but he does respect me and come to me for help/advice. I like to think that he respects me because I have always been very consistent in my expectations and discipline, and he can trust me to do exactly what I say I'll do. I leave the actual discipline up to his dad, but he knows his dad follows my advice. We just set very firm rules of "you choose this action, you choose this consequence", both the good side and the bad side, and stuck to it no matter what. My entering their lives rocked the little guy's world----from absolutely no discipline or structure to very clear expectations,lots of structure, and actual discipline. It got way worse before it got better, but it did get better after a couple of years. When he moved in with his mother this past Xmas, I got the old "Thanks for putting up with me, even when I gave you h-e-l-l. Nobody else except you would have stuck around." My advice is stick around ONLY is you are crazy for this guy and he is crazy about you, and you make a pact that no child is going to push you apart, because they often try their best to get rid of the new step-parent. If you stick around, life will most likely be pure stress for awhile and only get worse and worse before it gets better, and that's if dad steps up and becomes a real parent. Also, the kids have to know that the marriage relationship is #1 to both of you, and the children are #2. That can be very tough on them and on you, but that's how it has to be to be a healthy family. They have to be shown over and over again that their lives are stable because your marriage is stable no matter what they throw at the two of you, because the marriage is the #1 focus, then the kids/family relationship is the next focus. Am I glad I stuck it out? Absolutely!!! A marriage can last until we die, but teenagers grow up and move out in a few years!

I'd encourage you to give strong consideration to not enter into this marriage, unless both of you are willing to participate in Christian-based parenting counseling. A house divided against itself cannot stand. You both must present a consistent, strong united front on all issues related to discipline. Your concerns are extremely valid. To re-program his children, even with his undivided support and participation, will be an almost impossible accomplishment.

I would demand strong, non-negotiable conditions for his children and him to meet, before proceeding.
You must ask yourself a very difficult question: is your romantic relationship more important than what is in the best interest of your children? To be a parent first is difficult but absolutely unselfish and correct.
May God bless you with direction in these important decisions, which will, forever, directly affect your precious children and you.

As a middle school teacher in the public schools, I work with lots of blended families. As a single mother of 4 (one adopted) whose last is now happily married and expecting her own daughter, here is what I believe about relationships: the big 3 are money, sex and kids. That doesn't change in a second marriage/second serious relationship. Kids move around from mom to dad and back again fairly frequently as adolescents, so you have to be prepared for his kids to come live with you at some point.

Here are some questions worth asking: How long have you been divorced? How long has HE been divorced? The "post-divorce crazies" get us all, no matter our denials. It takes 25% - 40% of the time you spent in the relationship fully to recover and to be emotionally available to a new partner.

Why do you want a man (any man) in your life? I understand the desire to enjoy romance and feel feminine, and the desire for shared finances, which can raise your standard of living, or at least keep the panic at bay. However, the long-term financial implications of involvement could include a big fight over ownership of your farm, especially if you live in a community property state. More to the point, there are 168 hours in a week. Yours are filled with 24/7 parenting, 24/7 farming, and 24/7 teaching for 10 months of the year. I am not sure anyone has the emotional resources to welcome such a major trauma into one's life. I would ditch him, because there is no real up-side. No one in this picture is goiong to change, except your own children, who are going to pay a very heavy price for having these new people in their lives. If you cannot be dissuaded, I recommend couples counseling. Turns out that you cannot save the world (his kids). If we are very lucky, we are able to save ourselves and our children. Good luck!

You can't push a man into doing something he won't do for himself. If He won't step up for his kids on his own now because it is best, he won't step up for you and your girls when you need him to. You deserve better and so do your girls. A broken heart now is a lot better than another broken home later. You can love a lot of people but you shouldn't marry them all. Parenting with Love and Logic is a great book. They also have a web sight. I'm the mother of six and it helped me a lot. You can let him read it and see what he does on his own. That may bring some insight into how serious he is about loving a family with real love.Good luck!

C., Take everything in consideration; while raising
four children, each with different personalities.

There will always be conflicts between parents and the children.

Pray and ask for God's guidance; be patient!

First of all, I would advise you to talk to your friend about the possibility of counseling for the two of you, and possibly for the children as well. If you live in the Austin area, the Austin Child Guidance Center has many types of counseling and parenting classes available on a sliding scale according to income. I will look up some books to recommend to you on this topic, but I feel that reading books will not be enough to get your blended family into a more functional mode. Another thought is the fact that your friend seems unwilling to set any limits for his children. You can ,possibly start there and insist that he support you in your efforts to get co-operation and set limits and teach manners to the children. He probably wants to do these things, but has not had the tools to do so until now. Good luck. I have been a special education teacher for many years as well as a parent and grandparent ,so I am talking from experience too. J. K.

If you think your partner's lack of parenting is a problem now, guess how horrible it is if you marry them. The percentage of relationships that split over this is unbelievable. Take it from one who has been through it, unfortunately more than once...it only gets worse. Why so many men now days feel the need to be their child's "friend" and not their parent is amazing to me. If you have any idea of marrying this man, I strongly suggest that the two of you work your parenting differences out before marriage. If they cannnot be worked out...Run like the wind and save yourself the heartache and frustration. Good luck!

Try reading "Growing Kids God's Way". This book is an excellent blueprint to get mom and dad on same page. Many wonderful biblical principles that can be applied. Has changed my family forever for the good. MUST READ BOOK! We parents need to be retrained in many areas from when we were trained.

DO NOT GET ANY FURTHER INTO THIS RELATIONSHIP !

This situation with these children will eventually tear you apart, and will do so at the expense of your own children.

I am sooo sorry, maybe when the kids are grown there can be more ?

Best wishes and good luck.

Good Morning C.,

I can relate to your situation and can tell you from past experience, this issue needs to be resolved as soon as possible. Try to remember it is not the children's fault, it's the parents. One thing that might help is to let the children know the proper behavior at your house and what is expected of them. You might try setting aside 30 minutes each evening to give the children time to talk to each of you (without consequenses) about what is on thier mind or what is bothering them. You can help ease the transation of your union with their dad by being a support person for each one. I would let them know that you are not their mom but you love them and are there for them if they need you. If this issue is not resolved soon, it will certainly destroy your relationship. A person can only tolerate so much rude and disrespectful behavior. After all, they are only 8 & 12 and this is the behavior they are accustomed to and have been allowed to act out in this manner. Let their dad know this is a major issue for you and he needs to work with you to resolve. I know it is hard being a parent in blended families but given the right tools and attitude, it can be done.

K.

What a toughy since your wanting to be with him so badly. It sounds like the bad relationship he was in, just added or made him have no self respect. He has to take charge of his life or this isn't going to work. Do you want his kids to rub off on yours? Plus do you want a man who doesnt have a back bone? Kids don't need a friend they need guidance in this tough world. Kids need parents to make decisions for them, to learn to make healthy decisions for themselves when they are grown. If he cares enough about himself then he'll pull it together because he cares about others.

I am too blended: two are his, one is mine, and one is ours. It is the hardest thing you will ever do and keep doing for the rest of your life. Get the book SMART DISCIPLINE by Larry j. Koenig,PH.D. It will save your life, if you are willing and he is willing. The kids will hate it but soon embrace it. Trust me. Just give it a try.

K. Haynes
The MOM Team
Moms Helping Others Work From Home
www.mykidsaremyeverything.com

C.,
My brother had the exact same experience as you...even married the lady...nothing changed, the household was in constant flux...her kids tormented his kids (2 on each side with similar ages) the entire time..every family event ended with their demands and her giving in and letting them run over everyone. In short, a very short marriage. The minute they left, the household tension released and life is back to normal.
It's your responsibility to protect your children and do what is best for them FIRST...what you have witnessed is what is happening and real. Believe me, it won't change. And there is someone out there who will compliment your lifestyle, not contradict it. These things can undermine what you have already worked so hard to preserve. Good luck
A.

Dear C.
Having once been a stepmum of three stepsons and having had six of my own, I can commiserate with your feelings. It must be the most difficut thing in the world to be a stepmother. All I can say is that when someone else raises the stepchildren, they have different sets of values, etc. The best you can try to be is a FRIEND to them and leave the discipline etc., up to your husband. I don't know if you will find as I did that my husband was VERY overprotective of his sons - this led to the breakdown of our marriage actually. I wish you all the best and my advice to you is that the entire family have a regular therapy session to iron out the niggly bits so that everyone realises they have to work on the relationships and NOT JUST THE MOTHER who invariably gets blamed for everything! God bless you. Jewel

I married a man with two children 12 years ago. At one time we had a 15, 16, 17, and 18 year old living with us. Luckily, our parenting styles were pretty close...but his kids were used to having more than mine were. Fortunately, for the most part, we all got along, but there were some rough spots.

Understanding that there is a huge difference between you and your boyfriend is really important at this stage of your relationship. Do you think that you two should get counseling and also get counseling with all of your children? It may solve a lot of problems before you two decide to marry. It would be great if his children were a part of this. It sounds like he feels guilty about his family breaking up and maybe he overcompensates by indulging his children with whatever they want.

We went through all of this, and more. We also had a lot of fun together.

Best Wishes,

C.

I have a similar situation, except I've been with this guy for 3 years. I knew what I was getting myself into and I did it anyway. My biggest fear is being alone, but I'm also afraid of spending the rest of my life in misery. His kids are destructive, rude, disobedient, and very obnoxious. I'm getting to the point that I don't even like them. I don't know what to do either, but I'm telling you, either get counseling now or get out before too much time is invested. I'm kinda stuck for the moment.

I just wanted to say that I know that it is hard to read all of these responses and to think gosh these people don't realize that you love him and don't want to let him go! BUT! I also have to say that I agree with the majority of what I have read, and that you are not really in love with him! you are in love with the idea of what you want him to be! If he is not a good parent then he is not a good candidate to be a husband to you or a father figure to "YOUR" children, that's not even taking into account his children! or the fact that his kids will definitely influence your kids behavior! maybe right now they are annoyed with their bad behavior but after awhile they will start behaving like them , after all if they can get away with it why shouldn't your kids, and it will come at a time when you want more than ever for your positive influence to be remembered by your kids (as they become teens). I would let your guy know your concerns and let him know that you will put your kids first! even before your relationship with him, (he should respect that if he is a decent man and if he doesn't well there's your answer right there) and I would give him a chance to make things right! a chance to become the parent that you and he want him to be and that all 4 kids need him to be! Set a short but feasible time frame. if he can turn things around, if he choses to turn things around, then great but i would still give it more time before I thought about marriage (guys change once they get the prize!) and if he can't or won't change the situation then let him go on and raise his monsters (uh i mean kids) and you go your way and raise your little angels (uh I mean kids). no man is worth your happiness, or your kids best interest! I can tell that you really care about how all of this will effect your kids! well that just shows you that you will make the right decision for them even if it breaks your heart a little! Our responsibility to our children goes beyond our own happiness, until they are grown, and then it is all about us again like it was before we had them! I wish you the best! most people are not going to change, but maybe if he really loves you enough, if he loves his kids enough and realizes that he is not doing them any favors by letting them act this way, maybe he will have the courage to change! you can bet that a lot of the behavior from his kids is his ex-wife's lack of respect for him! you gotta wonder in the back of your mind (is she really just a bi*ch, or does she have good cause not to respect him?) I always say an ex is an ex for a reason! and there are two no three sides to every story! his side, her side, and reality! good luck! give him a chance but in the end put your kids first! blessings to you!

It sounds like you need to have him watch SuperNanny for a few episodes!

Seriously, if you two are going to make things work with a blended family, you must get on the same page with how you want to raise your kids together. It will not be easy (but you knew that). Before you go "all-in" maybe you want to sit down and have a good, long talk with your man to see if this is going to be a long-term commitment. It will take that kind of commitment to work on the kids.

First, reassure Mr Guy that you want to work on it together, and you'll help him change his parenting ways to get the results he wants. Try to avoid being critical and ask his opinion (say "Maybe we should try this instead..." and "What do you think would work with Tommy?") Make sure he's strong enough to make that commitment - you don't want to have him buckle as soon as his ex comes into view. His kids won't like it, and from your description they sound like the kind of kids who will pit Mom against Dad, etc., to continue their spoiled ways. You know what you gotta do!

As for your own kids, explain to them the facts: Lucy and Tommy weren't raised the same way they were and so they do things unacceptable in our house, and that you and Mr Guy are trying to work on becoming a family so there will be some changes. Be clear to all children about house rules, what is expected, and consequences of unacceptable behavior. Be consistent - you know you'll get the "you aren't my mom!" argument from his kids, or "you don't make Lucy do that!" from yours, so be prepared.

Okay last thing I have - don't take over for Mr Guy. He may just let you if he doesn't want conflict with his own kids, but make sure he disciplines his own as well as yours. This will convey that he has just as much authority as you and that you are a team in your new family.

Good luck to you all!

I got married four years ago, and brought three children into the mix. Although my husband does not have his own children, he did have to adjust to mine....well, two of them. My oldest stayed with her grandmother to attend college.
Even with children from only one of us, it has been a difficult adjustment, and my children are really easy to get along with. I can't imagine what it would be like with two families of children trying to blend, especially with two different parenting styles, and two of the children already being difficult. There will always be the feeling of "don't tell my children what to do" on both sides, even if it is never spoken out loud. Really examine the reality of what your lives will be like. Love doesn't always conquer all, although romantics would like to believe it does.

If you truly want to become a blended family you should both be on the same page. If not the consequences will be hard. Since you have 2 children previously they should come 1st. Parenting styles is something that is a deal breaker. If you guys are already having issues that aren't being dealt with & his children are having this type of effect on you & your kids it's only going to get worse. Change can only come when people are willing. You & your kids will pay for his mistakes & that's not fair. I'm sure you love him but if you look a few years down the road what do you see? Tell him what you want & if he's not willing to work WITH you to solve these problems then you should focus your time & energy on your own children. Counselors & books are a great way to begin. It will also include sticking with the plan you 2 make. The kids will appreciate boundaries in th end.I'm sure this isn't what you wanted to hear but you probably already knew this when you wrote in. Good luck!!!

Get out while you can... it's highly unlikely he and his children will change...

This is not going to change. You have to decide if you can live with it or not. It's a hard thing to do either way but that's really what you have to do.

Wow. My heart goes out to you. You and your kids are just too important. If this guy is not on the same page for disciplining children as you, it will pull your relationship and your kids into the depths of despair. If he is the reading type, and he fully commits to reading multiple books recommended, commits to blended family counseling, and doing a 180 change on leadership of his offspring, you should proceed cautiously. I guess that's the nice way of saying, save your time, your energy, your heartache, and your children's hearts, and pull-up anchor and sail away quickly. There are other men out there and God's Holy Spirit is a very quiet voice that hold's up caution flags in your head for a reason. You've heard Him and done well by requesting 3rd party advice to confirm your decision and gotten some very good advice from this request. The short responses say run. The ones that consider making it work are pages long filled with heartbreaking emotional battles. Sounds like you've done a great job with your kids so far in molding mature humans that can easily see the "weeds" growing in the other children's lives.

You will need to address this situation before your relationship progresses. Have you considered taking a parenting class together? Or attending a sunday school class that focuses on parenting? One book than may help you is Boundaries with Kids. However, I don't think reading a book accomplish your objectives. Sometimes it is easier to take constructive criticism from a neutral party versus you trying to teach him a different parenting style. If he doesn't agree or you don't see progress, then you will need to decide if you want to continue dating someone with a completely different parenting style than yours. It won't be fair to your children to allow his children to have no boundaries while yours are obeying the rules.

I was in a similar situation for about 2 years. I am not sure there is an easy answer here, but the best thing to do is sit down with him and set ground rules that apply to all the children and then you have to make him stick by it. I have 3 boys and the he had a daughter and one boy that fit in with the ages of mine. His children were also very demanding and used to getting everything that they want. If not there was a lot of complaining and temper tantrums. I tried to build better relationships with the kids by taking a little extra time with them to explain why I had certain rules that needed to be followed in our house and made sure to have consistency between all the kids so as to not show any bias. I would take the little girl to have her nails painted to reward her for not complaining and following the rules. I would also do a lot of compromise. She knew that every two weeks we had a standing appointment at the salon and it was something that she really looked forward to. You might try something like that with all the girls. It might help build some bonding and bring her a little closer to you so that she will be more receptive to some modifications. An example of the compromise: Neither one of his children were used to eating anything but fast food and I cook at home and we eat a lot of vegetables. I might compromise by asking them to eat carrots one night and the next I would fix the vegetable of their choice. I made a lot of progress with the little girl, but the little boy was very resentful of my boys and caused a lot of friction. In the end, the relationship didn't work out. I hope you have better luck in that category. You have to stick to your guns so to speak. Don't compromise the rules for his children just to keep peace with him. Your children won't appreciate that and your relationship with them might suffer. My children started to feel as though I was choosing a relationship with this man and compromising their happiness in the process. They need to be just as happy with the situation as you are.
My history: single mother of three boys for seven years until I met the perfect man with a daughter. Now everybody is happy!

try family therapy. that way you'll have an unbiased individual to guide all of you to be on the same page.

When I read your request I smiled and felt great sympathy for you at the same time. A very wise woman once said to me that step-parenting is the no-man's-land of parenting and that there is no harder job. I have come to believe that. Here is what I know and why I know it. I have been married to my sweetheart for just over a year (we dated for 2 years). He has 2 girls and 2 boys. I have 4 boys...yes, we now have eight kids. Six out of the eight are the same age (give or take six weeks) and all of them are under 12. It is insanity to say the least. When I first met my sweetheart's kids I was overwhelmed at the differences in how they were being raised and how I raise my kids. It was very similar to your situation; I believe in discipline and consequences, I just won't buy my kids love. Not the case on the other side of the fence to say the least. How did and do I overcome this battle? Well, my strategy may not work for everyone but it did for me...I layed down the rules and the law for my household. My husband and I were at odds some but I reminded him that when he's at work, I am with the kids. In order to combine the family we all had to live under the same rules and standards. End of story. It was tough at first, I had to be very strict and not let anyone get by with anything (including my hubby). The ex-wife didn't like it at all but she was quickly informed that she could have her own rules but in our home manners, consequences, etc...were the standard. We realize that there is NOTHING we can do about her enforcing our rules but my hubby and I have to stand together or it will never work. Once he and I became a team to raise OUR eight kids then things became easier. I also had to focus on the positive that my step-kids brought to the family. In today's society it's too easy to focus on the negative. Lots of times when I run to the store I take one of my step-kids with me. My kids are used to that because I do the same thing with them. I make sure I am affectionate with my step-kids and do my best to be interactive with their individual needs. The last thing that I think is IMPERATIVE is to get rid of the "step" unless you are clarifying to someone and I NEVER do that in front of the kids. My kids are my kids and that's the way it is...all eight of them for better or worse. I have had to work with my hubby on that too...it's been harder for them. But, since he has made an honest effort his ability to Father all of the kids has been miraculous. Lastly, my hubby wasn't allowed to parent as he wanted to when he was married to his ex. That is such a challenging thing to overcome. It takes time and endurance. There are so many things that are done quicker if we just do it but I am learning to let my husband try...sometimes he does well and other times he could do better. The important thing is letting him win or loose with all the kids not just his own. Showing him that you trust him to do the right thing with your kids will help him do the right thing with all of the kids. Okay, so that is all I have to say on this. I hope it helps. May God be with you in this task...it's the most important one that you have!

Well, I was in the same situation but his was 5. She was just what you described and after a couple years, you could see my influences coming through. The politeness coming through. She was 7 before she would get dressed by herself because he did everything for her!! We worked out fine for a while. After we got married, he decided I still was not mom, just nanny and he would pit me against them. He was constantly undermining my authority and undoing things. If I asked her to clean her room, he would say she didn't have to and I should do it. I would help her do homework and when he got home, she would start to cry (crocodile tears) like she was soooooo unhappy and he would say she didn't have to do the homework because it was too hard. I finally drew the line when he started calling me nasty names in front of her because (at age 8) I asked her to put her diner plate in the sink.

I'm not saying that yours is going to be a horror story, but if you don't make your intentions or desires as far as raising the children, his too, behaviors that you expect, manners that are expected and demanded as parents perfectly clear and concise or he us unwilling to accomodate you, there really is no point to this relationship. I am not trying to break you up mind you, but seriously, you are dating and children are involved. If you are not in it just for the sex, then you are looking long term. You really need to be on the same page, especially with 4 kids the same ages. Your kids WILL eventually start copying their bad behavior, it might take a couple months, but when they continue to see that the other kids are acting out without any repercussions, they will start too, because after all, what's going to happen, NOTHING!
He needs to knuckle down and be a parent, not just a buddy and you need to decide what you really want. Your kids are old enough to make it to adulthood without a two parent household so far, so why add more chaos to their teen years, especially condoning rebellious behaviour from step-siblings.
I hope this helps, no sense in waiting until it's too late.

C.,

I am a grandmother of 2 and raising one of those grandchildren. My grandson is now 13 yrs. old. Let me clue you in on something that maybe you aren't aware of. Did you know that if we heard from those kids dad, he would probably not see the problem you see, and most likely he finds some fault in your children.

It is tough when we try to blend 2 different families together. It takes someone of strenght and stamina to do so and succeed in it. Probably most of the things in the boys life is because they are "just boys". Take it from a 58 year old woman to not sweat the small stuff. Work hard at finding the good in those boys and the bad will just melt away. And hon, as long as you are not married to this man, you really have no say in how he does or does not raise his children.

If the boys are this much of a problem, maybe it is time for you to travel on and find a more suitable relationship. Good luck in whatever you do.

J. D.

Hi C. -

First let me start with congratulation on finding a wonderful man. Second, let me caution you. I am a step mother to two wonderful girls 13 and 9 and a mother to our 1.5 year old.

My husband and I met and had a wonderful relationship with our two girls. Then we got married. Their mother and I have two totally different ideas when it comes to raising children. We live different lives and values. Let me tell you... YOU will never change "her" children. They are who they are and will stay true to her. Don't get me wrong, you will influence them, you will touch their lives and you will make a difference. However, you are in for a long fustrating road if you or their Dad think that you can reform them.

It sounds like Dad never had a disaplin role before and now it makes it 200 times harder and will not be well excepted.

Dad is feeling like he has to "make up" for not being at home anymore and that his time should be fun so they will want to come to him. It is a hard place for him to be in. He loves his children, he want to be there for them.

When Dad starts to change and be more strict, that is going to fall on YOUR head. With that, will come resentment to you from both the kids and the ex.

I say all of this from experience. I would not change what and where I have been and do not mean to discourage you from your relationship. However, I do say this out of love. You need to take some time in prayer and decide if you can except Dad for WHO HE IS and if you can EXCEPT the kids for WHO THEY ARE. If the answer is no, then you are heading for a long hard road.

This is not to say that we don't have different rules in our house then what my girls have at their Mom's house... but that did not come without lots of, fights, heartach, tears and prayer.

Best of luck. I never thought that I would be in a step family, but, I love my girls, even though I don't agree with the way they are being raised.

J.

Get out now. Things will not change do not fool yourself into thinking that in time it will or that you can make stuff happen. You can not and it wont happen. Run as fast as you can.

Dear C.; I'm not really sure about any books off the top of my head except for maybe one of Dr. Phil's books. It doesn't sound like his kids respect him and he's trying to be a friend to them instead of a father. When there is any disrespect he needs to stop it and tell them not to disrespect him or you or your kids. When they are given something (no matter how small) they need to say thank you and its his job to make that happen. He needs to watch his sneaky daughter and realize what she is up to at all times. She's 12 and teen years are right around the corner and is only going to get worse unless he starts being a parent. The sentence that you wrote "Their mother in the past hasn't allowed him to be the parent he has desired to be" worries me. If he let her control him then that is his fault. He's the father he should have been being the father all along no matter what she thinks but it doesn't sound like he's doing a great job now without her either. He also needs to make sure that his kids know that all this change is his idea and not yours. Its a battle that can be won. Talk to him about making slow changes and be his support system. Check on the books. There has to be something helpful but the main thing that will be given is that he has to change. Like Dr. Phil says "How's that workin' for you?" Good luck dear lady.

Your kids are your first responsibility. If you're having trouble now, it will be worse after you're married. If you're truly in love, wait until the kids are grown.

Hi C..

Dump the guy and focus on your children till they are both out of high school. I am speaking from personal experience. A child is already "conditioned" by the time the child is 4/5 years of age. Changing at child at the age of 8/12 is going to be extremely stressful and if the husband is not supportive of you, you can count on your parenting skills to be totally disrespected/attempt at being a made a fool. BOys will be boys is a lame excuse. What's the excuse going to be when the male is in his 20's, 30's... and still acting like an adolscent. Again, dump the guy and concentrate on your children. You can live without male companionship until your children are out of high school.

My opinion isn't going to be what you want to hear. I was in the same situation and went ahead and married the man. We are now getting divorced. In my experience he resented me for the way I dealt with even my own daughter. He would look for reasons to fuss at her and make excuses for his son. I would have a long and serious talk with my kids if I were you and find out how they feel. My daughter did not like him but never told me because she didn't want to hurt me. Now, eight years later, I wish I had walked away from him before we had so much heartache to deal with.

I was in the same situation with my step kids...the way we fixed was I would ground them to their room until their daddy got home and he was th enforcer. Chris was the same way about parenting before I told him that the only way they are going to respect me and him is if he makes him. It was a battle at first, but once the kid realized that they couldn't come home and act the way they did at their mother's on her visists (we have custody) it got easier. What we did was stop rewarding them (no movies, no videogames, no out to eat, tc) until they learned to obey and have respect. They quickly get the picture when you stop the rewarding and have the daddy do the hardcore discipling. Also encourage the daddy to be the parent that he needs to be...if he knows that you will support him (even if you don't agree) then he will do better. There are plenty of times I have to swallow the way I would handle something in order to prove to the children that they HAVE to act right. I hope this helps...if you need anything else let me know.

C. ,

I would once again discuss the issues with your boyfriend. Let him know that if the two of you plan on getting married you would like to have a family sit down and discuss the importance of respecting their parents. I think that if you push to hard and continue to get upset about his children he will begin to feel a little resentment. I'm telling you from experience. I don't mind my husband telling me what he dislikes about some of my sons doings,but it really all depends on the approach ,and it should not be an everyday thing we should have to talk about. I'm the type who likes discussing issues with the children and my husband is more old fashioned thinking. He seems to think children have no choices,and should do exactly what their parents tell them to do. As for the disrespecting that your boyfriends children do, that definately needs to stop . I have a nephew who also disrespects his parents and it disgusts me to see them do nothing about it. That would really drive me crazy to just sit their and watch this without being able to have a say about what i think should happen. I really think it's all about the approach. Blending a family takes a lot of work and trial and error. I'm still in the learning process.

I'm sure you have received several replies by now-all of them full of wisdom. I married a man 7 years ago. He is the love of my life. I had 2 children and he had 2 children. Step children are the most difficult part of our marriage. As are the ex-spouses. If I had it to do over again I'm not sure I would. My children are my world and I adore my husband, but if a spouse costs you the relationship with a child then your marriage may never recover. I don't intend to be "gloom & doom" but present reality. Best of luck!

Hi - I recently married a wonderful man with two boys who we have every other weekend. Even though his kids are good, we definitely have different parenting styles and this is where the majority of arguments are. I discipline mine and he disciplines his - if there is a problem, I ask him (when the kids are not listening) to take care of it.

Go slowly and see how it evolves. This might be something you cannot live with, no matter how great he is.
Good luck - I have been a single mother for 10 years of two girls and this blended family stuff is WORK! You take on his kids, their schedules, their parents, etc.

My girls are 12 and 17 and his boys are 10 and 14. The two teenagers are the hardest, the little ones do just great.

Hope this helps. Also finding a church that we all like seems to be helpful. The kids can go to activities and make friends.

Teacher mom in Katy

I would suggest blended family therapy with a professional. Book's will not be enough with children that have all ready started displaying behavior that may be reflective from the parents tension and stress of a bad marriage.

Hi C.,

I can tell you from past experience if the dad is not willing to change, you can't change the kids on your own. Your best bet is to get out now. I had my ex-step kids tell me plenty of times that they didn't have to do what I said because I was not their mom. My ex was a long haul truck driver at the time so I did have more control over what happened on a daily basis. The daughter was nice to my face but snuck around as often as she could. The son was actually making better progress when it was decided that he move to Ohio with his mom. I fought for him to stay because I knew what would happen if he left. Just remember if both of you aren't on the same page there will be lots of fights and power struggles. God Bless!

My husband and I are totally different when disciplining our children. He's very leanient. We learned not to make decisions without inquiring one another's opinion. This way, they don't bring the issue to the parent more apt to say yes. Kids are cunning! Because I run a daycare, I have some automatic ground rules I have to apply when dealing with "other people's children" because in actuality, they are mine for some 10-12 hours of every day. You cannot change him, but you CAN begin to bond with THEM! When he see your method working, he'll get on-board. There's nothing worse than your children respecting everyone but you! If I ask daycare children to do something (ex: help clean up toys) and they ignore me or fall out. I don't react. I wait until they ask something of me. I answer, "remember when....you didn't hear me, so now, I don't hear you." Maybe they ask for juice. Same answer, but in this way: "because you did not listen to me, I'm not giving you the juice. Would you like some water?" When their behavior effects computer time, field trips, free Fridays (special day of fun activities, etc.), They learn to be more attentive and follow-through. When talking to a parent at the door, I've had children interrupt in an insistent manner as if I am not there or as if the parent is not there. I stop the conversation. Put all attention to them and tell the child, "it is polite to say "excuse me" when you hear grown-ups conversing. (yes I use what others call grown-up language.) I give them the opportunity to say what they want and respond. If it is a ploy to always interrupt their parents or myself from departing the door, or putting the parent on the spot for an answer, They get away with it 3-5 times and then I respond this way, "okay, but now it is time you understand that it is rude to interrupt grown-ups when they are talking. Have a seat and I will oblige you in just a moment." It really works! You cannot forget to "oblige" them. You cannot respond in a frustrated tone. You want to exhibit control so that they LEARN self-control. Your voice should be soothing. I never yell. They learn to "hear" me or the TV goes off or I sit still until they recognize I'm there waiting to get on to the next thing. As you see them change with you, you'll notice them boiling dad out, but looking over their shoulders to see if you notice. This is when you know its your time to go to the next level. Respond with, "your father doesn't deserve to be treated that way. Does he yell at you? Does he mistreat you? He doesn't leave you out! Now, if you can't begin to communicate with your father more effectively, then we'll have to foget our plans for you-guys tonight?" They'll ask, "what plans?!" Maybe it will be skating, or going out to sonics for ice-cream of their choice. Its giving an incentive when you had no plans, but you've got their attention on getting them to be where you need them to be in communicating with respect. Don't give incentives you cannot deliver. ALWAYS deliver when earned. If sitting around the house and you had to take the incentive away. be near them and say, "gosh-darn-it! I sure felt like skaing tonight. The pizza there is great!" Don't even look their way when doing it. Sounds crazy? It WORKS.

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