My Preteen Son and Fiance

Updated on July 09, 2009
R.J. asks from Washington, DC
8 answers

Are there any moms out there experiencing my issue? I have a 12y/o son that is very well mannered, does GREAT in school and is respectful to others. He is starting to experience puberty with the mood changes, he cares for his appearance now and likes girls. He's a mamma's boy :)My fiance is wonderful. The issue I am having between them is my fiance feels my son runs over me which I don't agree. He is a child and I remember how I was when I was his age. In my house for the last couple of weeks all you hear is fusiing and yelling. My son is going through changes. I was a single parent for 8 years, he nows has a little sister along with others changes he is experiencing as a preteen. I am a patient person and don't stress out over alot of things. My fiance is laid back but he can be firm and hot tempered. We agree on alot of issues but when it comes to my son being disciplined we do not see eye to eye most of the time. This issue has caused a major strain with both of my relationships with my son and fiance. Please give me some insite. I love the both of them very much.

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So What Happened?

Thanks Everyone for your suggestions and advice. We are taking it one day at a time but so far we are coming along well.

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answers from Washington DC on

I would suggest seeking professional counseling before things get out of hand. I went through a similar situation and did not do that and my son ended up living with his father for a while and then my parents because of the fiance. He is now 18 and off to college but our relationship has never been the same. I missed all the high school years and had to parent from a distance. It was very hard. My son resented me and felt like I choose my fiance over him,even though he opted to leave. We ended up in counseling after the fact but those wounds are hard to heal.

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answers from Washington DC on

Wow! What a busy life you live! My first reaction is that your son is feeling lost in the new situation. His arguing is his attempt to stay in the forefront of your mind. He was the 'man of the house' for 8 years, and now all of a sudden, not only is he not the man of the house anymore, he's not your baby either.

For the 'man of the house' issue, you'll need your fiance's help. I would give each guy an agreed upon set of responsibilities. What types of things has your son become accustomed to doing? Cooking? Cleaning? Making his own choices? The adults should work together to not overlook those things that are important to him, your son. If he's used to doing the cooking, perhaps he still can, and just provide a grocery list for the adults. Or perhaps the son cooks M- Th. and Fiance/you cooks F-Su.

For the 'baby of the house' issue, its a bit more simple, although you'll need to get your fiance on board too. My kids are 5y apart, 1 of each. I tell my son that he will always be Mom's little boy and my daugher will always be my little girl. Period. Each has a piece of my heart the same size as the other, and nothing will change that. As for me spending more time with the younger one, that's because she is younger. When my son was younger he got the same amount of time, he was just too young to remember.

Good luck.

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answers from Washington DC on

wow , I just wanted to say what great advice I think you have got already and I agree. I have a daughter also who came into my second marriage that I now have 2 new babies from. My first daughter who I was a single parent to for MOST of her life is now moved out and is 25 yrs old. BUT before she moved out STILL I kept our relationship as it was so to say and EXPECTED my new husband to "back up" what I ALREADY had established with her. He wanted to feel "in his place" I think and wanted to sometimes have more to say than I knew my girl was comfortable with (or me)not wanting him to IGNORANTLY drive a wedge between my daughter and me with what we "already had". THere was NO WAY it could even be POSSIBLE for her to trust him and be as secure with him as she was with me because he wasnt there all her life. IT is something your fiance will HAVE to accept. He is coming in on YOU AND YOUR SON'S LIFE and that is just a FACT. Not a bad thing just a fact. As someone else said it really isnt any of your fiances business, YOU haved worked with YOUR boy and thats why he has succeeded and is who he is and the way he is; YOU are credited for that, not your finance. So why should he suddenly get to give his opinion about how he thinks he treats you or WHATEVER. It would be different if he was a "bad" boy or something, but you have done well THE WAY you have. He only will feel its his business as much as you let him feel like it is. I would just nicely tell him , "this is the way it has worked for my boy and me,etc." AND I would TELL your boy PRIVATELY have a time with him about how he dont need to worry about "violative changes". TALK to him about it all in whatever words you see appropriate, just so he knows you understand him AND tell him how babies just need more to and help him to be able to love his sister. Sorry to go on. I have just been there. Write him notes in his lunch just saying "I love you". Those little things go a long way to and show you are still "there" just for him. My email is if you like to talk anytime.
With a prayer :)

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answers from Washington DC on

I would discuss the issues with your fiance in private. What, specifically, is a point of concern for him? What is a concern for you? Where can you both compromise?

Many is the time that I bring up a concern to my husband and leave it to him to deal with. He is the sheriff and I am the deputy. The other side is that sometimes I bring clarity that he does not have to a situation. Sometimes being so close to the kids and knowing them for their whole lives he's glossed over a behavior that is really something that needs to be changed. You get used to the quirks you live with.

It can be a very frustrating situation sometimes to be "right" but be unable to enforce that, and there I sympathize with your fiance. I think that some meeting in the middle is necessary. Your son is 11 and a lot is going on, but maybe your fiance has a point here and there about what to expect from him.

Also, something that helped my stepson at that age was getting into sports. They gave him an outlet for his boyish aggression and gave him a team and some interdependence.



answers from Washington DC on

Your fianceis not his father and should not be disciplining him, atleast right now. However, you can talk about what kind of role he has for your son and once you both decide what you think you should do, then maybe have a conversation with your son together and have him be a part of the completed decision making process so he knows what to expect from this new man in his life. Good luck!



answers from Washington DC on

Dear R.:
When I was a stepmom I would go to a website much like this one for help with MANY blended family issues. There are articles by professionals as well as boards like this one for questions. Your fiance needs to read the disengagement letter. What that is is about the role of the "step" in the family. It is not as a parent because it's not his biological child. You 2 will have to decide and agree on discipline issues alone together but as the biological parent you are the only one that can carry them out. I'm sure your fiance wants your son to respect him and wants to mold him into a good kid - but the "molding" part for the most part has taken place. He needs to understand the step parent role and come to terms with it and forge a relationship with your son that isn't all about discipline exclusively or your house will be chaos. Mine was - and my marriage ended. I hope that website helps! Blessings, S.



answers from Washington DC on

Congratulations on your growing family!

My initial reaction is this: Your first loyalty must be to your son and you must parent him as you see fit. You have been his primary parent. It is unfair to your son and you to have a "new' person come into an established relationship (that you are happy with and think is working well) and change things.

If your fiance starts making new rules, it also will only disrupt his relationship with your son. How you discipline your son is, in some ways, none of his business. He only needs to enforce your rules, and it should be clear to your son that you are setting the standards for his behavior, and that your fiance will only follow through with your expectations.

I also assume that some of this is coming from your fiance being a new parent. Frankly, he may just not "get it." You have a history since infancy and know your son better than anyone. You have a well-established working relationship with your son. Your fiance is looking at it as an outsider, even if he has been in your life for a few years.

All that being said, you have to find ways to look at things objectively and see if there is some truth to your fiance's observations. He certainly has a right to establish some expectations for dicipline in the household, as the rules you set now are going to soon influence your/his daughter too. And the teen years are going to be new and require new approaches anyway.

I think you and your fiance need to take a very rational approach to this. Have a parent's meeting and set some specific rules that address your fiance's concerns and still are acceptable to you. And then YOU have to follow-through. As I said, the boyfriend/stepfather should not get to be a disciplinarian with your son. He just needs to back you up and support YOUR rules. (And of course, if your son's father is in the picture, you need to be supportive of his views too.) You have to work with your fiance, independent of your son, to set consistent household rules and expectations. But your son needs to see the rules coming from you.

I'm not suggesting you compromise your beliefs about your son or about the way you parent. But you need ot make room for your fiance's approach. I just think it is super important that you parent your son and not your fiance.

Lastly, you mention a "hot temper." You also need to set some expectations with your fiance. he can get ticked off at you for the way you handle things, but he cannot undermine you just because he disagrees with you.

I also hear "hot temper" and worry that he might get physical wiht your son, which I hope is not the case, but if there is any issue related to that, you need to reconsider your plans.

Good luck!



answers from Washington DC on

You are the mother and how your child should be disciplined is your decision and your fiance should respect and support that. However, once you are married, he will be a parent, too, and he will have to take on the role of a parent. If the two of you do not see eye-to-eye on discipline, that could cause BIG problems - especially going into the teenage years. As a divorce lawyer, I have seen these kinds of issue again and again. I second the suggestion to seek professional counseling to work through these issues BEFORE you get married. Otherwise, you might end up in my office one day and you don't want that!

If your fiance refuses to go to counseling with you to resolve it, that right there is a big RED FLAG. Do not be so blinded by love that you do not act in the best interest of your child. Just the fact that you mention that he can have a hot temper should make you think twice about whether you really want to marry this guy. Those hot tempers can get worse and out of control, especially once you're married.

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