My girlfriend of six months and I are mid-40’s, both separated several years; her kids are 15 and 16, mine is 10.
Our kids get along fine, but, though I know separation is difficult, I can’t excuse her children’s rude behaviour - they talk back to their mother, whine and complain about everything. I finally told one of the kids off for calling their mother stupid. However, it continues - and their mother allows it.
It’s stressful to be at their place. My girlfriend thinks I should just block it out. That’s not addressing the problem.
I’m sensitive to not criticizing her method of parenting. She’s a great person and I want to be with her, but I could never live with her kids if their spoiled brat behaviour continues.
I do like kids, having taught martial arts to teenagers over the years. And it’s not my place to be disciplining her teenagers.
- At a Loss
You’ve described what many teenagers and their parents face, often with difficulty – the struggle of teens to become more independent verbally and in attitude while still living under parental rules. It takes understanding for the transition, some compromises on freedoms, and firm setting of new rules along with responsibilities.
This mother needs to stress that rudeness to her is unacceptable. If her children don’t comply, neither will she continue doing all the things she does for them beyond providing a bed and food.
Moreover, these teens need defined chores: doing their own laundry, meal clean-up, etc.
Meanwhile, your role is to become an adult friend and guide. Try to catch their interest in martial arts, or some other aspect of fitness and personal development.
When these two start to feel better about themselves and have clear limits, their behaviour will improve.
When is it best to tell my two adult children that I’m leaving their father?
My daughter, 24, recently moved out on her own; my son, 21, is in university.
My husband insists that we tell them “closer to the time.” He’s referring to next spring, when we’d be selling our house after fixing it up.
I now realize that’s too long to sustain the hurtful tension. We’ve launched into a renovation, with our kids believing it’s for us.
My husband’s only been intermittently employed for 18 years due to depression and anxiety. He’s taken the news of my leaving with a mix of rage and paralysis. I’ve urged him to see a psychiatrist but he’s refusing to seek support or counselling.
I stayed over the years for my kids’ sake. Do I wait on my husband to speak to our kids or speak to them myself?
- Feeling Guilty
There’s no “good” time to announce a family break-up. That’s why my inclination is honesty up front with grown children. Though there’ll be difficult reactions anyways, they’re mostly absorbed in their own lives.
You’d benefit yourself from counselling during this process, for many reasons: 1) Showing “guilt” about a decision that’s already firm, only feeds the anger of those who are affected. You need to reflect conviction that you believe what you’re doing is right. 2) Prepare yourself for dealing with your children’s feelings. They could take Dad’s side and distance from you; they could question your underlying motives and suspect an affair, etc.
Adult children deserve to know what’s going on, or they’ll react more negatively to being left out of the opportunity to discuss this huge change.
My niece worked for me, and was close. She’s getting married, and I’m the only family member not invited! I took that kid in, put up with her deceit, and still gave her glowing kudos for a new job.
My mom, age 90, is also so upset. I feel betrayed.
My half-sister is a diva, didn’t speak to her own brother for years, is extremely wealthy, and so are the rest of the family.
Why would someone do this?
- Sad and Abandoned
Behind your hurt feelings are years of a clearly complicated family situation. The wedding exclusion is just another eruption in what is never a smooth relationship, so it really should not surprise you, though it’s unkind and unfair. Rise above it. Send a card to your niece (likely it’s her mother who “uninvited” you, not her), and treat yourself to a day devoted to doing things you enjoy.
Tip of the day:
Dealing with difficult teenagers often requires re-defining everyone’s roles in the home.