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    My wife doesn't want to discipline our children
    An_257366 posted:
    First let me say that I try to discuss everything with my wife and going on here without her knowing feels like I'm hiding things from her but I am truly lost and need some help. If I bring the subject up of my stepson and his actions she turns defensive and clams up. I have been trying for months just to have a discussion on what to do about his utter apathy towards everything but video games. He is failing in school, doesn't do any chores, and eats what ever, when ever we wants just to name a few. My wife refuses to give or hold him to any rules. I am completely lost on how to help him. When I correct him on something she may or may not argue with me right there in front of him on why he's not at fault for what ever it was. But as soon as leave or am not around it all get countered and he off doing his own thing again. His is a smart boy, he is 13, and he knows that he just has to bide his time until I'm not there and all is forgiven. My wife wants to be his friend and is scared to make him mad at her. On the few occasions that he makes my wife upset she goes off the deep end, screaming and yelling and issuing all sorts of crazy threats. How or what can I do? My stepson is the one that will lose in the long run because he is going to be completely lost later in life but my wife will not talk to me about this. An advise would be greatly appreciated, Thank You.
    bigred53 responded:
    Hello and welcome! First let me say that I'm sorry no one has responded but it is a holiday weekend.

    Sounds like you are stuck between a rock and a hard place. It seems you want to be a good parent to you step son but your wife wants to be his friend. Parents can't be their children's friends until the children are grown and on their own. Is it possible that she is afraid he will want to go live with his father if she makes him angry?

    I think that both of you should go to parenting classes. Many cities of different kinds of classes/counseling services for little or no cost or even on a sliding scale based on your income. Or you could check with your insurance company and find out what they offer.

    Imo children need discipline and chores. They need boundaries and to learn to respect their parents. It appears her son does not respect either of you.

    The two of you need to be on the same page with everything. The rearing of your children, how you spend your money and even your sex life. Children can pick up on dissension and will try to use it to their advantage especially if you're distracted.

    I believe the parenting classes are your best bet. Good luck and I hope things work out for you.

    dfromspencer responded:
    Hello, and welcome!!!

    I have to totally agree with BigRed on this! I have a brother in exactly your position! His wife is so scared her child, now 11, will go straight to Human Services if she so much as swats his rear end, like he desperately needs! He eats what he wants, destroys things when he is mad, then demands they be replaced, and mommy will of course oblige the little demon! He has no concept of what it means to have to work hard for money these days, and could care less, mommy is there for money every time he asks! This little imp calls his mother all sorts of names, and she does nothing to help my brother dicipline this kid? I feel the same way you do, he is a very smart boy, he gets excellent grades, but when home, he is a holy terror? My brother tries, he gets nowhere with his wife either, and that will only hurt this child more when/if he makes it to adulthood?

    I have asked my brother if he has ever suggested that, (parenting classes) to his wife? He claims he has, but all he gets for that is screaming and hollering that she is a good mother??? Really, i have told her myself, and she just gave me a blank stare! I've threatened kid with bodily harm when he smarts off to me, i will NOT tollerate disrespect from anyone, especially not an 11 year old!!! He pretty much respects me, he avoids me when i'm there! LOL!

    I feel real sorry for you, as i do my brother! His wife will never go to any kind of class, and my brother is starting to come to grips with that, and does his level best to help that boy, he gets no backup that he needs!

    The only thing you can do is, hopefully, get your wife to agree to go to these classes, for just three times? Get her to make a commitment, and do not let her out! She may just see the light in those three classes, especially if you can talk to the person giving the class ahead of time? Let them in on your situation, and hope for the best?! If they can help her to see the light in three days, you may just have it made? I wish for her to comply with you?!

    Well, all i can do now is commiserate with you, as i do my own brother! I wish you all the luck in the world!!!

    hareborn replied to dfromspencer's response:
    Thank You for your responses, both you and Big Red. I was hoping for a different answer though, you know the magical cure, lol. I do want to give a little more insight into my family real quick though. My wife is a loving, caring, amazing women that doesn't do any of this out of malice. She simply has too big of heart and refuses to talk about my Step son. She doesn't see anything wrong and it's always something or someone else's fault not my step son's. My Step son is a very respectful kid and uses his manners well. The issue is shear apathy. If it doesn't interest him he won't have anything to do with it. When I met his mother a couple of years ago he was very, I mean very disrespectful to his mother. I came in like the god of thunder and brought lightning down from the heavens and him. My wife and I worked as a team even though she hated what was happening because she know he had a problem and wanted the change. That was the last real support I got, he is very respectful now though and doesn't like to upset us..

    My big issue with my step son is "how do you make someone care"
    Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD replied to hareborn's response:
    I agree that parenting classes could be a big help. The question is how you get your wife to agree to them.

    People in situations like yours often find it helpful to empathize with their partner's struggles, which can serve to highlight those struggles. Then the step to finding a solution isn't so big.

    In your situation, this would mean trying to fully understand and empathize with your wife's distress when her son acts in problematic ways (e.g. when her son is disrespectful, brings home bad grades). You might have her explain how she feels (e.g. helpless, angry, ashamed, afraid) so that you can really get it -- rather than assuming you understand the feeling, it can help to have her clarify what's causing her to feel a particular way. Once you do this, you can really empathize with how she feels about the situation as a whole and how taking action could feel threatening. If she struggles with feeling like a bad mom, you can empathize and offer compassion for this. Often, the key is to go slowly, not jumping too quickly to solving the problem. Spend time offering compassion -- e.g. sharing how you love her and how seeing her struggle saddens you. When people take their time with understanding and offering compassion (often over a number of conversations), then they are often more effective with helping people take action in a new way. Maybe this approach could work for you?
    dfromspencer replied to hareborn's response:
    Hi Again,

    I understand, that is exactly the same problem my brother has! No one can get him interested in anything other than video games?! If you really want help with that, and this is what i concluded with my brother, the only way to help him, is to get him in child counseling! The big problem there, for my brother, his wife refuses to do anything to him, and that includes any child psychiatrist!!!

    Maybe your wife might agree to counseling? I hope she does, i think its the only way to break down the video game wall? He/she can dig into his psychy? Not spelled right, i know, but i know you get the idea? Get your wife on board, and i think he stands a better chance than not going?!

    I wish you all the luck in the world!!!

    bigred53 replied to dfromspencer's response:
    Sorry but there are no magic bullets when it comes to raising children. I've been thinking - what about some kind of reward/ consequences system? When I was young and in school we got a dollar for every A on our report cards and fifty cents for every B. I worked really hard to get those grades. We also had chores and got an allowance. We pulled weeds, picked up dog poop, folded laundry, did the dishes, watered the yard, general house cleaning - dusting and vacuuming, cleaning the bathroom. There are lots of things he can do to help out. At 13 he should be able to mow the lawn and clean up. doing chores and keeping up with his school work could earn him video game privileges.

    The most important thing is that you and your wife must agree to this plan and you both have to monitor him. I know it sounds like a lot of work but as you said you have to do something. It would be like training a new employee at work.

    That's all I can think of for now. I hope I have been of some help.

    rohvannyn replied to bigred53's response:
    Good luck to you with your stepson. He's lucky to have one parent who truly cares about him. If you can open a dialogue with your wife, it might be helpful to let her know that kids who don't have limits feel LESS valued and MORE unhappy than kids who do. To get her to listen, you might start with "I need to talk about this because I care too much about him to leave it alone." You want this boy to learn how to get along in the world, and he won't do that if he is apathetic and cares only about video games. You can definitely find ways to motivate him, probabaly through a reward/consequence system, but his mom HAS to be engaged and not act as apathetic as her son.

    You know it's not a parent's job to be their kid's friend. Rather, the best thing they can do is provide reasonable limits. It isn't easy all the time, but then again, what worthwhile activity is? This boy needs a mom who cares more about her son's wellbeing than about her own feelings. Maybe she can get that message. Maybe a counselor can help explain it to her. I wish all three of you the best.

    On a slightly different subject, Dennis mentioned that the parents of the boy he knows are afraid their son will turn them into social services. I have to ask an open question... in this modern era, where kids can report their own parents to social services and in some places even reasonable chores are considered abuse, what is a parent to do? I think the situation is becoming untenable. Kids NEED to be taught how to live with other people and value the work that they do, we can't allow them to be uncontrolled little monsters who don't respect anyone! How can we teach them respect if CPS is constantly monitoring for signs of abuse, imagined or not? Especially I personally have seen quite a few news articles about good parents, setting reasonable limits, who have been accused of abuse by their children, who are using social services as a weapon against them. Something's got to give or I have a pretty dim view of the future of American society.

    'Your focus determines your reality.' --QGJ
    rohvannyn replied to rohvannyn's response:
    By the way, I realize it may have looked like I am saying your wife doesn't care about her son. I'm sure she really does care about him, I don't doubt that, but it sounds like she doesn't realize that what she is doing (or not doing) can be really harmful to him.

    'Your focus determines your reality.' --QGJ
    fcl responded:
    I'm wondering how this all affects your other children. Do they see your stepson getting away with murder and think that they can too or do they have a different set of rules?

    Your wife really isn't doing her son a favour with her treatment. She is not preparing him for life in the big world out there. Things will be so much harder for him if he's never had to deal with rules and respect before ...
    There's nothing inherently dirty about sex, but if you try real hard and use your imagination you can overcome that.

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