First, some background - My fiance has a 3 yr old son who is shuffled between mom and dad on a daily basis, topped with daycare ranging from grandmother 2 days a week, great-grandparents 1-2 days a week, and structured preschool 2 days a week. Child's biological mother, dad, grandmother, and great-grandparents allow the child to dictate the day/household and is given no rules. All parties want time with the child and even fight to get time with the child regularly. All parties want to "win" the child over.
My fiance and I have had some ongoing issues with his son. He recognizes that some changes need to be made before we get married pertaining to the child. Examples - sleeping in his own bed, eating at the dining room table, disrespecting me verbally, etc. My fiance will go into the evening knowing he wants to make changes, and will even discipline the child when he acts up, but by the end of the night, he's feeling guilty and reverting back to giving the child everying. Worse yet, he is laxing on the rules when I'm not around but is enforcing them in front of me, which is leading the child to believe I am the bad guy with all of the rules. He will let him do something in the morning and then when I come over in the evening, he will tell the child no. Not only does this confuse him, but it's leading him to think that Daddy lets him do whatever, but when Stepmom is around, Daddy makes me listen. When I'm involved in the discipline, my fiance tells me he thinks I'm too hard on his child with the discipline, but when I watch him do it without my imput, he's just as demanding as I am! I'm feeling like he is putting the discipline on me so that he doesn't appear to be the bad guy, but I'm tired of the disrespect his child gives me because he resents me for supposedly having the rules. My fiance has made comments to me that he doesn't want his child to not enjoy being at his house with all of these "rules."
I feel that rules we have agreed to enforce are actually pretty minor for a three almost four yr old child! We have a rule that he sleeps in his own bed, a rule that we sit at the table and eat meals, and if there is an issue with eating, he must at least sit until we are finished, etc. These to me are the building blocks that every parent, regardless of the situation must work on!
Lately, I have taken the approach of not discipling at all and letting it all on my fiance, but even when he's discipling him, he's still turning around and going back on his word!
How can I work through my fiance's lax attitude with discipline and teach his child not to disrespect me anymore?
Unfortunately, there isn't much you can do. I suggest you think long and hard about whether you want to be in this situation for the rest of your life. It will only get worse as he gets older because apparently there is no consistency with the discipline. Discipline is worthless without that. You can either sit and talk with your fiance about your concerns and inform him that your decision to remain with him is based on the ability to co-parent and to enforce rules and stick by them because it is wrong that he allows the child to be disrespectful to you. If your "rules" are not out of the ordinary and aren't too extreme then I don't understand why they can't be followed. I totally understand why your fiance feels guilty and wants his son to enjoy himself with the little amount of time he has with him but it's not his job to be his son's best friend. He is a parent and that comes with responsibility. We discipline to teach, we do not want our kids to step out into a world that is based on rules and think that they don't need to follow them. Good luck, it's hard being a step parent, especially when there is no cohesiveness and agreements when it comes to parenting.
I also have to say think long and hard if this is what you want to get into. My wife has a 6 year old son who can be a tyrant at times. Why is this? From what I see is a lack of consistency in discipline. What is punishable one day is not the next. Also his grandmother feels she can put her 2 cents in while the child is in front of the room. However when I discipline everyone jumps to save the boy, but when they do the same or harsher, it is seen as "ok" and not that bad.
Point is, being a stepparent is hard. I had to learn the hard way that if your partner doesnt want to do things your way, there is nothing you can do about it. its either go with their way of doing things or ignore/remove yourself from the situation at the time.
I have to do things like put my headphones on or go in another room somedays so that I bite my tongue. You really need to sit down with your fiance and get some straight and concrete answers from him on what he is going to do. Eventhough you may feel like the outsider coming in on the situation, when you talk about marriage, your opinion is as valid as everyone else's.
You need to have a talk with your fiance. It's not right to let a child run all over adults and then let you take the blame for discipline. Your world is going to be turned upside down the longer all the adults allow it to continue. If your fiance is not willing to listen to you, maybe it's time to re-evaluate the entire situation. NO child should have THAT much power..EVER...Period!!!
Thank you all for your support! I recently was locked out of my account, so I had to make another! As time goes on, I'm finding that it's actually not so much my fiance that is reversing the discipline, but his family! Grandma has put the child in a very unhealthy relationship with her where she is trying to take on the motherly role. She has been reversing everything that my fiance has asked regarding the discipline! We have tried to take steps to remove the child from her care as much as possible, but now she's made a great attempt at brainwashing the ex into thinking the child is best with her than in daycare. I've been doing a lot of thinking into this whole situation. If it wouldn't be for the wonderful relationship my fiance and I have, I don't know how I could've made it this long!
While the grandmother is an issue (my mother in law is a huge issue), dont let your fiance off the hook.
My mother told me that when my brother and I were toddlers, her family did not like my dad and they would do things against my dad's wishes. My mom said that the turning point was not my dad putting his foot down, but my mom had to put her foot down and tell her family to back off. They even had to go as far as limiting the time my brother and I spent with our grandparents. The reason for this is because the primary household (the one with the mother/father/child) is the main priority. You two will be the ones that have to deal with the issues the majority of the time.
While some of the blame can be placed on the grandmother, she most likely wont back off unless your fiance tells her to back off. She is only doing as much as he is allowing. Still sit down and talk to him, and let him know that he has to take care of it, he is the father and he needs to put his foot down with his mother or mother in law
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