BF Doesn't Enforce Consequences - Driving Me Crazy
My boyfriend of 3 years has a 7 year old son. He does not enforce consequences. He'll talk about consequences, or may even mention that there might be consequences if his son doesn't behave (or in response to a bad behavior that already occurred) but never follows through. In some cases, he has even unintentionally rewarded bad behavior.
This drives me crazy, and we have spoken about it many times to no avail. I inherently can't stand watching bad behavior go unaddressed, or rewarded at worst, as this is against every fiber of how I was raised. But furthermore, I have watched his son learn over the past 3 years to whine until he gets his way, and I have seen the areas in which he does act out escalate - including hitting people. This terrifies me thinking about how bad it will be 5... 10... years down the road.
The instant I bring any of this up, my boyfriend makes excuses along the lines of, "I don't get to see my son that often, so it doesn't make sense to ruin the whole weekend" - or "you don't get to see everything, so you don't know how I handled it" - or "if we haven't figured out how to address this in 10 years, THEN we have a problem, but we don't have one now." I've learned that it doesn't matter how many times we talk, or how we talk about it - he's going to keep doing whatever he feels like he wants to do. In the meantime, I really don't want to be around him when he has his son.... and worse, I'm scared of how this situation escalates in the future.
I want to understand from you, am I overreacting? underreacting? is this normal behavior for a 7 year old that does not spell doom and gloom in the future? or is it a "pick up everything and run" type situation? I have no idea.
Specific examples of things I've witnessed:
- His son has escalated physical "hitting" or "slapping" over the years - especially within the last 6 months.
- It started around 5 or 6 with frustrated shoving or slapping when he wanted attention or wanted to do something and wasn't getting his way immediately (I tried a couple "we don't hit people", but that was about all the correction I saw from anyone).
- It grew to become a "gamelike" behavior with trying to see how hard he could "slap" or "hit" his dad (of course, my boyfriend didn't say anything to him, other than an eventual "stop" when he got annoyed).
- Shortly after he turned 7, we were eating in a restaurant and the kid wanted attention from his dad, so he got out of his chair, walked up to his dad, and SLAPPED HIM ACROSS THE FACE. His dad glared at him, but handed him an iPad and told him to sit down and play video games (i.e. a reward to the kid, he loves video games).
- A few months later, he's getting in trouble for slapping and lashing out at kids at school in other ways (and continuing more of the "gamelike" slapping dad at home behavior). His dad talked about imposing a "no video game weekend" consequence, but then the whole weekend was FULL of video games, and cake, and fun outings, and presents, and more fun than ever.... you would have never known that anything was wrong. The most he did was say, "I heard you got in trouble at school" and then dropped the subject when his son said, "oh I can't remember, I don't want to talk about it."
- His son has escalated disrespectful language towards adults.
- Around 5, it was what I would read about as the "usual" demands for attention without being overtly disrespectful
- Around 6, he started saying things that made my jaw drop. Once, we were standing at a newspaper dispenser and he demanded his dad give him money for it. His dad said he didn't have any change on him. So his son scoffs and shoves his hand in his dads face and says, "Just give it to me, dummy."
- Also around 6, whenever he'd get in trouble with someone else (his mom, his grandma, etc.), he started proclaiming that it was fine because he'd just go to his dads and do whatever he wanted.
- Now at 7, he's back-talking on nearly everything he doesn't want to do. When my boyfriend asked him to bring his bowl and cup to the sink, he said, "do it yourself" in a tone I've only heard school-kids bossing each other around with. This was basically the only thing I've ever heard my boyfriend say anything about, and it was just to say "no, I asked you to do it." To which I had to back him up before his son would actually do it.
- Other concerning trends include a general lack of rules.
- I've watched the kid eat 1 or 2 bites of his dinner, just to beg for (and be given) a whole bunch of cookies, or chips, or McDonalds after dinner is over and put away. When I address this with my boyfriend, he always proclaims that his son "ate a whole bunch of food" (which is never true on the occasions I bring it up), and he always has some excuse for giving in.
- His son also regularly stays up until 11pm.... midnight.... 1am.... or even later. Basically however late he wants to, or however late my boyfriend feels like staying up.... This is also something I've spoken about with my boyfriend - since I don't want to come over and have NO adult time after a full day, and then have to deal with an over-tired kid on meltdown the entire next day. Still, he lets the kid stay up until ungodly late hours every single time.
- And the meltdowns. Oh god the meltdowns. If his son feels like staying someplace, or wants to go someplace else, or adults aren't paying attention to him the way he wants them to, or kids aren't playing with him the way he wants them to..... dramatic meltdowns ensue. Which happen with kids. But my boyfriend fawns over them. Which makes them 10x worse, and last 10x longer, and happen 10x more often.
So... after all that. I'm very grateful for this forum, because it helps to know that you're not alone. But also, I could really use some help understanding if all of these are normal frustrations stemming from extremely different "parenting styles" - or if this really is a disaster waiting to happen down the line.