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Step-Father or Dictator?
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Step-Father or Dictator?

My son is now 13 and is considered by myself and many others as being a good kid.  Polite, respectful, truthful, able to communicate well with adults.  I've heard this from dozens of people, every teacher or adult that knows him.  Complete strangers will stop me to compliment him on his respect and attitude toward others.  Unfortunately there is 1 person that consistently believes my son is disrespectul, isn't normal, that he needs to be on drugs, or he needs his "butt beat," on and on and on.  Unfortuantely that 1 person is my husband and my son's step-father.  It has been 8 years of blow-ups every few months, listening to him berate my son, listening to him belittle me because "I can't see it because he's my son," and neither my son nor I getting any respect whatsoever in the fact that I am his biological mother and that what I say should carry some weight.  I have listened to him directly undermine something I may have told my son he could or couldn't do -- even when my husband wasn't involved in the conversation to begin with.  We have tried counseling, hundreds of tearful nights, open honest communication, promises, family talks, you name it.  Every single time we come to a mutual agreement, my husband fails to uphold the agreement and goes right back to being a jerk, blaming my son for the reason he is acting the way he is.  My husband absolutely refuses to see that being a dictator to a 13 year old doesn't work.  He refuses to acknowledge that he never has a nice thing to say to my son.  Even if he does try to come up with a compliment it is always immediately followed with a "but...."  Every day we hear about what "his father would have done."  His father was a jerk as well.  

In 8 years time I don't think we have had a single peaceful dinner.  There are always comments about "you're taking too much, or too little, or you eat too much garbage, or you're getting fat, or you're holding the fork wrong, or you shouldn't pour your milk that way, or that's too much salt or not enough pepper, or any of 1,000 other things just to make things miserable.  I am going crazy and my son is reacting by withdrawing to his room and not wanting to come out any more.  I don't blame him.  I want to hide in my room as well.

I do admit that there are times when my husband is right in what he is trying to say that my son should or shouldn't do.  But how he says it and then harps on it makes it difficult to even listen to him.  I also admit that my son is a 13 year old and starting to test his own personality.  He rolls his eyes, or makes faces, sighs in disgust, or simply doesn't listen like almost every other 13 year old out there.  When he is supposed to do things, he takes his sweet time or complains about it.  But he always does what he's supposed to do.  That isn't good enough.  If my son doesn't drop what he's doing within 1 second of being "told" what to do, even if he responds that he will do it in a minute, my husband goes nuts and starts screaming his head off or threatening my son.  No, he hasn't hit him to date, but that does not mean he is any less threatening.

I could go on and on and on for hours about how miserable things are.  I am the product of an abusive father, so I also know that things are not as bad as many children experience; but that doesn't make it any easier for me to accept the emotional abuse my son is subjected to.  Anyway, I guess my questions are: (1) is it time to throw in the towel?  (2) What role is appropriate for a step-parent take if their positions are completely contrary to that of the biological parents? (3)  What do you do when you follow all the steps recommended by the experts and one party fails to abide by the decisions reached jointly?
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9 Comments Post a Comment
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13167_tn?1327197724
Your husband resents your son and sees no reason to be nice to him.

I'd have gotten out 7 years ago,  stuck.  You aren't stuck,  you just won't get up and move.

Sorry,  but this issue makes my head fly off.   I don't sit for one moment with someone being unfair to my sons in my presence - why do you make this child take it for 8 years?
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535822_tn?1417529476
You ask what can you do , you protect your child  yes you throw in the towel, as soon as possible and as a child of an abuser it should be plain you are putting your son through the same thing.NO he isnt right no one who abuses any child is RIGHT
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458072_tn?1291418786
If this is how you feel like he is treating your son, then your job as his mother is to protect him.
Do you have a pastor or someone you can go talk to because you and he both need help.
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Avatar_n_tn
Thank you for your responses. In my mind I know you are all right; but my heart is weak.  Of course, I knew before I asked but I can't seem to find the strength to make it "final" and this time would absolutely be final.  My husband would be certain to punish both of us by not being available to my son at all.  Yes, he is capable of carrying a grude forever even if he was (is) in the wrong.

I am consistently questioning myself about what is best.  I wonder if it would be worse for my son to grow up without a strong male influence as his biological father is very weak and allows my son to completely control him. His bio father doesn't teach him anything, except how to sit around, watch tv and drink beer.  

I wonder how hard it would be on my son to experience a second family failure.  His teen years are approaching and I recognize the importance of male interaction.  There are no other men in our lives, or at least none that could be involved on a frequent basis.  My son idolizes his step-father, but hates him at the same time.  

When I did have the strength to make my husband leave for a year because of his treatment of my son, my son missed him, as did I.  Of course I allowed us to come back together after hearing the promises that sounded like a light-bulb had finally gone off, after therapy, and so we could help my husband deal with his own father's illness and death.  He needed us and I was very weak when it came to seeing his pain.  He is still feeling that pain, and I hurt for him.  When we first got back together, things were better for awhile.  Now its right back to how it started, despite the dollars and time spent on counseling for all of us.

I also recognize that my son is jealous of his step-father and the attention I show to him.  I know this to be common in similar situations.  My son has consistenly said he wants it to be just the two of us; he wouldn't even want his bio father back with us.  My son and I have a good relationship, but he is also independent and certainly not a mommy's boy, although he does abide by the clear limits I have set.  Then again, he's a teenager now and I know some of those limits will be tested.

Growing up with a physically abusive mother and father, I recognize that there are worse men out there.  My husband has never laid a hand on my son, but that does not stop him from telling both of us that my son needs a good beating.  Just because its never happened doesn't mean my son believes it won't happen.  Just the tone of my husband's voice is frightening.

I also look at myself.  I have a history in my relationships of walking out instead of working toward solutions.  I am very patient to a point, then once that point is reached, I quit.  My "quitting" was justified in my mind because in every single situation the point was my significant other being involved in sexual relationships with other women, one of which was with an under-age teenager (my son's bio father).  I know without any doubt whatsoever that my husband would not cheat on me.  Then again, I thought that way before....

I really do not know which is worse -- a son growing up without a father in a second failed family or the constant nit-picking and verbal abuse.  I know that if this second failure occurs my son will feel he is to blame, despite my constant reassure that would not be the case. He knows that the absolute only thing my husband and I fight about is my husband's treatment of my son.

I want and need to protect my son; no one is more important.  I just can't seem to grasp which is the best way to fix this mess I subjected him to.
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Avatar_f_tn
it doesn't matter if he is physically abusive or not...he's mentally abusive. constantly on your sons case about...stupid things. what you need to do is step up as a mother and say "enough is enough". it's time to stand up to your husband and tell him to knock the sh!t off or it's over. i'm amazed your son has put up with this for so long. i had an abusive step parent growing up from the time i was 4 till i was 16. and my mother stood up to her (my fathers wife) he didn't stick up for me or even believe me...but my mom did. it didn't stop my step mother but when i was 16 i finally had enough and i stood up for myself. i quit visiting. guess what...after 10 years of a miserable marriage and finding out she'd been cheating on him for 3 years with his best friend he divorced her. what did he get out of it? twin boys (the only good thing that woman ever did in her life) and a restraining order (he lived with my grandma who lived next door to where they lived at the time b/c my grandma was having serious health issues at the time) and has to pay $1200/month in child support now.

you NEED to stick up for your son. he is your son. your flesh and blood. he needs the support of his mother against this mentally abusive monster. if my hubby (who is my boys father) EVER did that to them....he'd have divorce papers on his desk so fast it'd make his head spin.
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