Discipline ideas?! I dont know what to do.

Avatar for sweettartnacho
iVillage Member
Registered: 01-18-2006
Discipline ideas?! I dont know what to do.
Mon, 11-11-2013 - 8:54am

My kids & I recently moved into a lovely new townhome.   My husband had an affair & I opted to move out w/the kids, while he & his mistress take over the lovely family homestead.  

Anyway, my kids are 18 & 15 & I am just APPALLED at how they will do NOTHING for me in my new townhome.   My oldest says she uses so few dishes, so she doesnt need to participate in running or unloading the dishwasher.   My youngest says she runs the dishwasher (ie pushes the buttons) so she shouldnt unload it.

I dont know what their excuse is about the trash, but they wont take it out.

I have unloaded the dishwasher every time since we've lived here & Ive taken out the trash every time.

If I start talking about it & telling them to do this & that, it ends up a screaming match.   They dont do it.   My youngest, in fact, will make a mess, or drop something on the floor & walk right over it.   She will NOT pick it up.

I have no control.   My ex is of no help.   He makes gobs of $ & spends it on them.   He tells them not to worry about any threats I make (ie taking away phones) because he will cover it.    I refuse to take my younger one out to buy things she needs & she raises cane w/my ex, talking about how awful I am. 

Im starting to talk to my ex about my younger one coming to live with him.   He basically is a doormat who will put up with anything.   $  helps a lot with him.   If she doesnt want to clean at his house, he just calls a maid & pays them.    

My oldest is truly a "good citizen", but, unbelievably will NOT help with anything that involves the household.   Only her own room.

With as much hell as I personally have had to live thru with the affair & getting back on my feet & having to leave my beloved home, these girls have not lifted one finger to help me.   I moved every single box (maybe 300?) alone up & down 2 flights of stairs.   It has taken me weeks & the girls complain about why things have not gotten cleaned & organized sooner.   Ive done all the moving, arranging utilities, improvements, organized the kitchen, organized the food.  The girls have done nothing.   Not one thing.   Only their own things.

I need some discipline ideas.    At ages 18 & 15, I feel it is tooooo late.  These are not MEAN kids (well, maybe my youngest is), but I cant believe they havent helped me out of love, if nothing else.   My ex is (behind my back) feeding this.   He is enjoying the way they are behaving, because it hurts me.   

What can I do at this point?   I feel like it is just too late & Im going to have to accept that Im doomed to a few more years of cleaning up behind them.   My 18yo has talked of moving out &, because of all this, Im encouraging her.   Ive also started pushing more that my youngest go live with my ex.  

:(    He would like nothing more than this, as he wants the girls with his mistress to be one happy family (altho they HATE her guts!)

Avatar for suzyk2118
iVillage Member
Registered: 07-30-1997
Mon, 11-11-2013 - 11:19am

I'd suggest family counseling. They are NOT too old to 'get it'.  For us, if ds didn't do his chores, then he got no xbox time, or later, no car other than to go to/from school, until he was back on track.  Good luck.


iVillage Member
Registered: 05-27-1998
Mon, 11-11-2013 - 11:44am

I second the family counseling idea. I am sure your kids are as broken up (in their own way) about their dad's affair as you are and that may explain some of this, but this behavior didn't just start. It sounds like you've been their slave all along and this has to stop now. I have a lot of ideas about discipline, but I really think a counselor would be the best place to start because your family could use a reboot.


Avatar for mahopac
iVillage Member
Registered: 07-24-1997
Mon, 11-11-2013 - 11:46am

I'm sure you realize that this problem isn't new.  The problem originated back when they were small children who weren't taught that they need to help out in the family, which should have been reinforced in their early adolescent years when they first started testing your limits.  If you never taught them that ALL members of the family contribute to the good of the family, why would you expect them to do it now?  If this is the way they are, it is the joint responsiblity of your ex and you, because they didn't get this way without your permission.

Suzy's suggestion of family counseling is a good one.  Even strong kids will act out when their world goes topsy-turvy, like when Dad has an affair and instead of him being booted from the house, THEY got booted.  You need a new family dynamic.  Counseling can help.

Avatar for sabrtooth
iVillage Member
Registered: 12-03-1999
Mon, 11-11-2013 - 12:21pm

I am also on the "they didn't get this way overnight" and the "you ALL need counseling" bandwagons.  In addition, it seems that you are too quick to throw "problems" out the door. Your husband had a affair, and instead of trying to figure out WHY, what part YOU played in that-- because it ALWAYS takes 2-- and then repair your family for your children, you take your kids and run away.  Your children get defiant--and what kid WOULDN'T when they've lost their family, home, friends & lifestyle-- and the first thing you do is tell the 18yo to move out, and give away the 15yo.

You also have flogged your problems all across the internet, and demonized your husband's girlfriend.  This attitude is nothing but detrimental to your children.

You need to admit that YOU are at the heart of many of your problems, and get some help.

iVillage Member
Registered: 02-14-2000
Mon, 11-11-2013 - 2:59pm

Hi and welcome to the board. Sounds like you're about at the end of your rope with all that's gone on. It makes it tough when you and the girls' dad aren't on the same page as far as discipline. While there's not much that you can do about his treatment of them you can certainly follow through on consequences while they're at your house, whether it's taking away the phone, computer time, etc. I'm sure the whole situation has been very tough on the girls and you could all probably benefit from counselling (although you can't really 'force' the 18 year old to go). Even if you can't get them to go, though, speaking to a counsellor yourself might help with the anger and give you some ideas on how to better communicate with your dds. Is your 18 year old still in high school? College? Working? If she's out of high school perhaps work with her on a plan to move out, whether it's student housing or an apartment if she works full time. Are you still in the same school district as their dad? If so maybe it would give you a needed break if your 15 year old stayed with him for awhile. Good luck and keep us posted.

Avatar for elc11
Community Leader
Registered: 06-16-1998
Mon, 11-11-2013 - 5:23pm

First let's clarify your situation: your dh is having an affair and is living with his mistress in your home, while you and your girls moved somewhere else? At one point you call him your ex---are you divorced from him? If so what is your custody agreement? 

Either of those situations must be traumatic for your kids. So I agree with the others that counseling would be a good idea for all of you. Individual counseling for the kids, family sessions for all of you together, and your own sessions to deal with the things you are going through that your kids shouldn't be privy to.

Back to the discipline issues: were your kids good about doing their chores before the change in family dynamics, or did you have to nag them to them, or did they not even have chores before? That answer can tell a lot about your problems.

I usually had trouble getting my teens to do chores so its not an uncommon problem. A lot of teens use the strategy of procrastinate and try to wear down Mom's resolve until she gives up. So it does take a lot of patience to withstand it, but withstand it you must---or they will learn that they call roll right over you. First off, stop screaming. Try whispering instead--I'm serious. That gets their attention. And when it turns into a yelling match you get sidetracked from the original issue, the chore. Don't nag, they know how to tune that out. Remind them once, and after that the consequence kicks in. The consequence is important. Whenever possible use a natural or logical consequence.

First, make them responsible for their own things/areas and you step back, let go and let them own that. Such as they do their own laundry. If they forget or don't feel like it, too bad, you don't pick up the slack. If they go to school in dirty rumpled clothes, not your problem. The natural consequence of not doing your laundry is you don't have clean clothes, and they will learn that lesson a lot faster if they have to live it. If they have their own bathroom they are responsiible for cleaning it and if it gets gross, that's their problem. Same with their bedrooms. You get the drift. So now you only have to require them to help maintain the public rooms, fewer chores to negotiate with them.

About the unpacking: did you ask them to help you? Try to organize an unpacking party with a pizza or something to make it anything other than drudgery? If you are giving off the vibe of a martyr you can bet they will try to avoid you, nobody likes to be around a martyr or somebody in a bad mood. If they are still asking when YOU will get the place organized, the response is "when you two will help me, because we all live here together".

Without knowing about their past its hard to know what's going on here, but I wonder if your expectations for them are unrealistic? Like if they have been pampered for the past 15 years and suddenly you expect them to act like adults, its not going to happen. A lot of teens are pretty self centered and if yours were already divas then they're not going to suddenly feel bad about all of the work that you're doing. 

The encouraging them to move out/move to Dad's could make them feel like you are rejecting them so tread carefully there. They may be acting out with you right now because they know that your love is unconditional. 

"I refuse to take my younger one out to buy things she needs & she raises cane w/my ex, talking about how awful I am." That's a common kid ploy, pit the parents against each other---used even when the parents are happily married but not on the same page regarding child rearing. Why do you refuse to buy her things she needs? As a punishment?

"He tells them not to worry about any threats I make (ie taking away phones) because he will cover it." Don't threaten to take the phone away as a punishment, only as a logical consequence. The only time you need to take away the phone is if she is using it instead of doing something else she is supposed to be doing like homework. When my dd was using the cellphone late at night/insted of homework I put the charger in my bedroom and made her give it to me before bed/before homework time. She got to have it during "free time".

I hope that some of these suggestions give you ideas on how to deal with your kids. A counselor might have other specific suggestions, and might be able to give you good advice for dealing with the entire situation.

Avatar for jamblessedthree
iVillage Member
Registered: 10-23-2001
Tue, 11-12-2013 - 4:54am

There's a lot going on there. Maybe they're resentful of the whole break up and having to move out of the comforts of their home.  No, 18 and 15 are not too late, Sit down with them and have a meeting, negotiate chores, Listen and talk with them not at them. Counseling is a good idea for all of you too. Hindsight is 20/20 but I would have kicked his butt to the curb and made him leave not you, he sounds like a real piece of work.  Good luck.