doing great but now I'm stuck between my husband and ex!!!

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-30-1999
doing great but now I'm stuck between my husband and ex!!!
3
Fri, 11-02-2012 - 10:19am

Over the last few days DH and I have been talking about changes we can make together to improve the atmosphere at home as well as DS10's behavior. We are going to make a behavior chart for DS10 in the format of calendar so he can actually watch his progress, not just check off daily markers. (There are only 3 behaviors that need to be worked on too..... 1. Be Polite to Mom ie. no backtalk or rude behavior, 2. Use Manners, 3. No hurting people/things.) Nothing difficult and very simple, bottom line core expectations.

I did have a moment of weakness yesterday when I told DS10 to take a shower and he said DH had told him to do homework first. Instead of just going with my gut & reinforce taking the shower, I went to check with DH first to see if he had told him to do that (my routine is shower first, homework after). DH looked at me funny and asked why I had to ask that? That doing that shows DS10 that I am not equal and what I say doesn't go but what DH says does. I knew he was right... I should have just gone with my gut because we both wanted the same thing, just in a different order. (At least DH wasn't an ass about it this time... I think he understood that me being off balance is throwing my game off too.) So I went back quickly,told DS10 to take his shower first, the do homework and there were no issues. The rest of the evening went great. I felt confident & focused and was able to stay that way all night. It felt good!

Cool

Ok, here's the catch. DH and I have both talked to my exH & explained what we want for changes in behavior from DS10. He says he's on the same page and agrees. Good, right? One of the things is DS10 acts like a very entitled (I know a lot of kids do). He rubs it in my face all the time that exH is able to buy him this, that and everything else while I am struggling to put food on the table. That exH takes him on trips (cruises, Disney, etc) and I am lucky if I get a free museum pass! Not only does he use it with/against his parents but he throws things in his brother's face all the time. We (DH & I) have told DS10 how "lucky" he is to have two homes with 4 loving parents whenever he is feeling down about having a split family. We try to make it a positive for him. But then he goes and rubs it in DS5's face. (I know he's a kid & it's a coping strategy to make himself feel better, but it's also braggadocious.) Even my exH has agreed that DS10 has a spoiled brat attitude which none of us like.

Since we're trying to make these changes, DH and I agreed that we don't think DS10 should be able to (ie. he feels it's his right or obligation) to have two of everything all the time. We try to help him feel like everyone else & like his brother DS5 (he complains about being treated differently). Fine, we can do this. I understand bothy my ex and I are going to have birthday celebrations and give holiday gifts and whatnot. But does that mean he is entitled to go trick-or-treating twice a year, every year? Knowing that his brother (and most other kids) don't get that opportunity? DH and I don't think he should. Under most circumstances (from what I know) if you're gonna go out it's either with mom or dad; there's not an option of doing it multiple times on different days. In this case, where I live in our town we do it on Halloween night. Where exH lives the town always do it the weekend before or after on a scheduled date. So DS10 goes twice, gets overfilled on candy (which also usually ends up back at my house cuz he lives here primarily) and he brags about it all. This has gone on for 5 years.

I asked exH last weekend if they did trick or treating and he said not. So on Halloween DH and I had no problem taking the boys out together. However, my exH called last night and told DS10 that they are having trick or treat this weekend and to bring up his costume. Greeeeaaattttt.... so do I argue with DH or argue with exH and DS10? I had already told DH that there was none last weekend and so we felt comfortable with our decision. Now I have exH who calls me & says he doesn't think that's fair to not allow him to do it twice since he's technically able to do so. Gee, thanks. That's not helping enforce what we're trying to do. And I can't say anything to DS10 in front of him cuz I don't want him to see all 3 (or 4) of us parents arguing about something as stupid as candy!! It would show we're all not agreeing when we say we are all on the same page. I don't want to argue with DH, especially since this is kinda out of my control. (Or is it?) I don't want to tell DS10 he can't go to his dad's house since that's not fair. I feel like I'm cowarding to exH again instead of standing my ground and saying I don't think he should do it. Why the hell am I so scared? It's almost like I'm afraid if I do that exH will use it against me to take DS10 from me. Am I being crazy? Why the heck can't I think straight for myself? I am dreading dropping DS10 off tonight because I know this costume/trick or treat issue will come up and I feel like I'll be caught in the middle. I can already see it now.... DH asking why I packed it and/or exH demanding why I didn't if I don't? aaaauuuurrrrrgggghhhhhh!!!!!! Help?

Community Leader
Registered: 07-26-1999

Hugs!  It sounds like you and DH are starting to be on the same page a bit more and he is doing a better job of backing you up on things.  I think its a matter of opinion, with the shower/homework issue.  In our house, whatever the first parent says, if the kid comes to the other parent or the parent says to do something and the kid said "parent A said to do this first" we check with each other and whatever parent A said first is what happens, this is so we are always working in conjunction with each other and the kids know they can't pit us against each other, we back each other no matter what.  It took me a while with that one becaause when we were first married, my DH would tell ODD something, and then I would tell her something sometimes in contradiction to him and she would always do what I said and it was hard on our marriage because of it because DH didn't feel like he was being listened to.  But you and your DH have to come up with whatever system works in your house.


As for the ex and the trick or treating, or anything for that matter.  Honestly, you cannot control what goes on at the ex's house, plain and simple.  You can hope you two will co-parent effecively and work with each other for the best of your son, but that just is not always going to happen.  I think really what you need to do is not worry about their house.  Set clear and consistent goals, chores, expectations at your house and stick with them.  If he goes trick or treating twice, then he does, but if he starts to say something braggish at your house about it, especially rubbing it in to the younger one, you discipline him for it, plain and simple.  I don't think its the way to go just because he does something at his dad's to then "take it away" or restrict him from doing it at your house under the guise of "fairness" because frankly, you are always going to be the bad guy.  Its a fine line, and its hard.  We have had that problem a lot with my stepson when he comes to visit us.  He does not have his own bedroom at our house, he is only with us 6 weeks of the year, and we don't have enough room at our house.  He told DH last summer when he was with us, I want my own bedroom.  We explained to him that we didn't have the room, it wasn't feasible right now and he basically said, then go buy another bigger house, I should have my own bedroom.  Well, is he right, yes, he really should be able to have his own space when he visits us, he's the only boy and he's almost 14 where we have a 3, 5 and 17 year old girls.  But that doesn't mean we are going to go out and buy a new house that we can't afford just to appease him.  They have to understand that in life, we do what we can, we love them, and we are the best parents we can be to them, and that's it.  You just need to sit him down, explain the reality of the situation to him about your household and its financial limitations and that he has to work within that.  Its a tough situation.

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iVillage Member
Registered: 03-30-1999

I think you're right. Kids do have to adjust & I'm sure DS5 (who is from me & DH) would prefer having both parents together over what DS10 has. It's just so darn frustrating.... for the longest time my ex said he wouldn't even discipline cuz he felt guity for only seeing him 4 days a month. Now at least he agrees with us. I think I'll just tell DH the truth.... DS10 didn't get to go last weekend and went with us as planned. Now they have an opportunity to trick or treat w/his dad & I can't control what my ex does. ...*sigh* (I guess I just need to accept that I can't control what happens there.  And we really should just focus on our own home.)

Community Leader
Registered: 07-26-1999

The non-discipline issue is really very common amoung situations like you have.  My DH went through it the first few years of our marriage, he hadn't seen DSS in quite a while, his mother kept him from DH, and so whenever we did have him, DSS always got to choose where we ate, what movies we saw, everything, because DH felt so guilty about not seeing him and wanted to do everything he could with him while he was with us.  It created a lot of resentment for both myself and my ODD at the time.  Eventually I had to put my foot down and explain and show him that he was excluding the other kids and that wasn't fair, no matter how guilty he felt, he still had to be a parent to his son, not a friend who let him do everything or get everything he wanted.  It got better once our younger kids were born, DH realized much more that he couldn't treat one out of 4 kids so much more special whenever he was here visiting with us.  So I do understand what you are going through.  And yes, that needs to be your mantra, you cannot control what goes on at the other house, you can only control and regulate what goes on at your house, do what you can to be consistent in the house rules, and communicate with your DH as much as possible to keep things as stable and consistent as possible.

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