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Doing things as a family

Ghost22's picture

Good morning everyone,

I have a question about doing things as a family. Simply put, I don't want to do things when it involves SS14. Anything we attempt to do with SS 14 turns into an absolute nightmare so I would rather not put myself and my daughter in the position to be around his piss poor sulky attention seeking behavior. I honestly cannot think of a single thing that we have done as a family where he hasn't ruined it.

Now I have attempted to explain this to DH because it's pretty obvious I don't want to do things that involve SS14. You can imagine how well that conversation went over. He says if he's going to do some thing with SS, DD is allowed to go and I can just stay home.

1. I dont trust SS14 around DD2. He's sneaky and DH is oblivious. He has ruined her toys and tried to get her to swear. They aren't major things- but they aren't kind things either and I don't want him around her.

2. I said I thought it was messed up he was willing to sacrifice the happiness of his entire family because one person chooses to be miserable time and time again (SS14). 

My question- how can I get him to see that his son's behavior ruins family time (he just ignores him when he acts out which cases him to amp it up) and not try and force family things that involve him?

justmakingthebest's picture

I would suggest starting an activity- board/card game for example. If his attitude is poor, just stop at the end of that round, pack up the game and state that his attitude isn't going to ruin your night. Walk out of the room and turn on a movie or something that it won't matter if he is there or not. 

Ghost22's picture

Thank you so much for your reply. I have done what you suggested as far as ending a game early and walking away... or even just going inside when he is outside acting obnoxious. He doesn't seem to care... if anything it likely reinforces his behavior because now I'm gone and he gets DH all to himself. 

I think at the end of the day I have a DH problem... while he has gotten MUCH better (not as much of a Disney dad) his way of handling SS isn't always consistent and direct. I think he's afarid that if he actually parents SS then he will just choose to live with BM full time instead of 50/50.

justmakingthebest's picture

OH! See that is where it is a DH problem. He does have to get up and walk out of the room or away from the behavior. 

ESMOD's picture

I think you need to make yourself plans on when and how to deal with SS14's attitude.  I mean, he honestly isn't going to be the first teen to be a turdmeister when on family outings.

First,  If things are being done at home... like JMTB described.. when the attitude/antics reach an intolerable point... you can calmly collect yourself and your dd and say.. looks like the pleasant part of the evening is over.. we are going to go "get ready for bed".. "read a book"... "take a bath".

If things are being done outside the home.. a local meal out.. or local trip... you can do one of a couple things... you can choose to pick up DD and go to a separate place at the venue.  Like if you are at a local zoo.. and he becomes unruly, you tell SO.  I am going to take DD with me for a while so you can deal with your son... You have my Cell phone.. call me when you are ready to leave.  You can do the same thing at a dinner out even.. ask the waitress to move you and your DD to another table..   Alternately, you can call an uber for yourself and dd.... or take the car and tell your DH that he and his son can take an UBER home.

For activities or trips that are further away?  you may have to situationally figure out what your plan is.  Do you drive separately?  Do you just resolve to spend as much time apart as possible if the boy acts up.. if that means that you stay behind in a hotel with your DD while SO and his son go out etc... And you bite your tongue and grin and bear the small amount of time you do have to spend with each other.

Finally, you can adjust your expectations too.  A 14 yo is a sullen little animal.  I would not have super high expectations and would do little to poke the bear so to speak.  Let the kid be to his own devices to the extent possible.. expend energy and attention on your DD and when SS acts the turd.. roll your eyes and give your SO the "handle it" look.  Then remove yourself from the proximity.. even if you are in the car driving.. you can have your SO pull over somewhere you and DD can go for a little walk while he counsels his kid on proper travel attitude.

And.. sure.. sometimes you can just opt out of things.. DD is tired.. we will just sit this one out etc...

Ghost22's picture

Thank you for your reply, too. I love what you said about creating space and walking away... "I'm going to take DD with me so you can deal with your son." YES. In my previous reply I mentioned I think I have a DH issue in that he doesn't always discipline and address SS's poor behavior directly and consistently. When SS acts out he generally ignores it as not to feed into it... If I were to tell DH to handle his son, unless it's incredibly obvious he would say, "what is there to handle? You just don't like him/want him around."

Maybe me physically leaving with DD will force the issue a bit more. Again I just don't want to reinforce SS's behavior by leaving- as now he gets DH all to himself- effectively dominating the family which seems to be his end game. If he's not running the show/Center of attention he's not happy.... me leaving I feel may only reinforce him to act out and I'm not confident DH will actually handle the situation when I'm gone.

Maybe if I were to say, "So here is an example, SS, I don't want to be around you when you act this way... you're doing XYZ which makes it hard to spend time in your company." Maybe if I say that in front of everyone- SS will get a direct message and DH can't ignore what is happening in the moment as I'm forcing the issue to be addressed... thoughts?

Ghost22's picture

Thanks... im just not entirely convinced DH would back me up infront of SS... ugh..

ESMOD's picture

You can also definitely drive home your message later as well.  and call him out on not backing you up.. it may be uncomfortable for him.. but he better support you.. or it isn't much of a relationship is it DH? 

Ghost22's picture

Definitely. I've called "family meetings" in the past where I've raised issues. I'll never forget... right before the first family meeting I told DH I was going to say a few things to SS.... he said, "well what if I don't agree with you?" I told him tough because I have to back him up in the moment all of the time so now it's his turn to back me up." He did- but I could tell me being so direct (kind, but direct) with SS made him uncomfortable. 

SS and his handling of his behavior is literally our only argument. We argue after the fact all of the time... I think he gets it, he's just afarid SS won't want to come around as much....

ESMOD's picture

In some cases.. it may seem like a win for SS in the short term when you remove yourself.  However, you don't have to leave your SO off the hook.. and that is not the "end of the issue" when that outing is over.  Revisiting the behavior that caused you to remove yourself with your SO.  Ask if he feels that it was reasonable to allow his son to hijack the outing with his bad behavior... and call SO out when he feeds into it.  I might also when stating why you are leaving also pointedly tell your DH that "I am leaving SS because you won't stop making snide comments about this park and how "stupid" you think it is.. and DH, I am disappointed that you are sitting here laughing at his rude comments that are making this an unpleasant trip... DD and I are going over to look at the bird sanctuary and you can both sit here and think about how you can do better  Call me when you are ready to go home".

Ghost22's picture

Thank you...  I guess the feeling that overwhelmes me in those moments is a feeling of powerlessness. However, maybe I'm not giving myself enough credit. I am the other adult and I get to say what is/isn't appropriate in my presence just as much as DH.

DH has such a us (SS and DH) against the world mentality sometimes... like because DH was the one to introduce SS into the family system he feels an alliance and/or a sense of responsibility to SS which I understand but it doesn't mean he has to back up SS's bad behavior. He uses the excuse "this is just his personality" to which I generally reply "that explains why he has no friends"... it can get very pointed at times. 

I feel like the adults in SSs life are failing him because no one speaks up... afarid of hurting his feelings? IDK

simifan's picture

Part of parenting is to make your kids likeable. They need to be able to get along with teachers, bosses, neighbors, spouses, & friends.

ESMOD's picture

He needs to understand that he is doing the boy no favors by letting him behave poorly.  I used to tell my DH.. that his girls needed their manners because they would not want to be embarassed by acting crass when they were with other people.  

Look, everyone is entitled to have a bad day.. be in a bad mood.. to even not love everything that they have to do.. but part of maturing is making the best of even the not greatest situations.. so the kid needs to figure out how to suck it up and not ruin things for the rest of the group.

In your case.. picking battles and addressing the worst aspects and letting small things slide may be a start.

Ghost22's picture

I agree we're all entitled to a bad day... before we do anything as a group I specifically explain to SS what we're doing and tell him he can stay home if he doesn't want to partake... It drives DH crazy when I do that because he would just prefer to have him come with us wherever we go... sometimes I don't have a chance to talk with SS beforehand and those trips are always the worst.

When I explain whatever were doing to SS 7/10 he doesn't want to come and when he does- he knows he better not pull anything because I will give him the ol "I told you so"

Dogmom1321's picture

I would use SS as an example of how NOT to act for DD. And make it known to everyone. For example, if SS is trying to get DD to cuss, make it known WHY you are leaving a situation. "We don't want to be a part of inappropriate language." "We are learning how to have good sportsmanship." "We are learning how to show gratitude and thankfulness." 

Let it be known to DH too that you will not have DD indirectly learning these behaviors. Yes, I do think it's a big deal. And I don't think you should have to sacrifice how you want to raise your daughter, simply because of DH doesn't want to parent his own child. IMO, I would have no problem doing things with just my child. It would be sad they are missing out on the "family" experience. But it is way better than being exposed to behaviors she shouldn't be. 

I've thought about doing this exact same thing when our DS gets older. Sadly, SD11 is a poor influence majority of the time and I don't want her behavior to rub off on him. I don't think that is a "selfish" thing for a mother to want that for her child. 

Ghost22's picture

YES. I feel the same way... at one point SS was rubbing his ass across the carpet like a dog (fully clothed) but when DD started to mimic him I told him to knock it off... climbing on furniture, same thing. 

I've communicated that to DH- that I don't want SS influencing her whatsoever... I never leave them in a room alone together because I don't trust him. DH doesn't get it at all...

I like that though, use SS as an example of how NOT to act. She's only two now but she's smart and I will definitely do this moving forward.

notarelative's picture

There is a huge difference between the interests of a two year old and a teen and DH needs to realize that.  It's fine for you and DD to bow out of teen interest 'family' activities as they are not really family activities for DD. And it's perfectly fine for DH and you to do activities that interest a two year old when SS is not there. And if the activity is appropriate for for all, everyone can go. 

Teens are often not the easiest to take on trips (even in an intact family). My oldest, as a teen, was so miserable on a trip one year that the next year we didn't take him. It was a lesson for him that he learned. The following year he came, and was wonderful. 

Ghost22's picture

Agreed. I absolutely love your example- I would do the same thing.... it's just that my DH would never want to exclude SS out of fear he won't feel like he belongs...

Its not even major trips... it could be going clothes shopping... DD needs clothes, SS needs clothes... we go as a group. Now SS hates clothes shopping so I would just let him wear things until he literally can't squeeze into them anymore so that he has to go... DH would just assume beg SS to let him buy him a new outfit. It's wild.

Rags's picture

Isolation is a ready solution for ending the influence that a Skid with a poor attitude has on the rest of family.  Any kid with a bad attitude for that matter.

We dealt with this with THE TOWER and countless tens of thousands of sentences all in perfect hand writing, perfect spelling, perfect grammar, at a pace of  120- 180 per hour depending on the length of the sentence to be incessantly repeated to drive home the behavioral message.  When the kid was supposed to be working and was screwing off, he could be working when he was supposed to be relaxing and having fun

It took no time flat for us to recognize that if we limited our activities to keep him in THE TOWER writing sentences, .we were punishing ourselves. So... we adjusted the punishment to be served any time we were at home.  If we went to dinner, he went with us but he knew the second we walked back in the house... he went straight to THE TOWER

Before anyone freaks out... at that time we had a 6BR 3.5BA house for three of us.  THE TOWER was one of the 5 upstairs BRs that was empty except for a hard wooden antique writing desk, a large pad of ruled paper, and a pencil with a pencil sharpener. The room was air conditioned, heated, carpeted, painted, etc... it was just empty except for the desk, etc....

"I will do my homework as assigned and turn it in on time or I will write sentences during my personal time until I learn that doing my homework then not turning it in is a bad decision." X10,000

The kid (SS-28) has the most beautiful hand writing of anyone I know.  So much so that if there are manual forms to be filled out in his USAF shop, he is the one assigned to fill them out.  THE TOWER comes up in humorous conversations upon occasion when he is telling us a story about his work.  All of his coworkers know about the sentences and THE TOWER.

So, 10,000X "I will not drag my ass across the carpet like a dog or ever attempt to teach my baby sister to be an idiot or an attention seeking ass like I am."  Perfect handwriting, perfect grammar, perfect punctuation.

In an isolated room for hours on end so the rest of the family does not have to suffer his presence or his bullshit.

Lather, rinse, repeat as needed.

Ghost22's picture

I wish my husband thought like you... seriously... I think 90% of my issues would be resolved (or if not resolved- actually handled). I'm with you 100%. My husband's response to the ass dragging was "what? they're kids" and he claims not to have heard the cursing. Doesn't matter if he heard it, I was sitting in earshot and directly called SS out to which he denied it and hid away in his room for the remainder of the night. 

Rags's picture

"Yes, they are kids but you... are an idiot parent so your kids suck."  "If you won't parent them, I will and you will STFU and have my back or you will step up and get it done before I have to."

At some point the "What? They're kids." bullshit has to be moved into the immediate and total confrontation bucket and the behavioral beatings have to begin and continue until both the idiot parent and their ill behaved progeny make the changes necessary to end their increasing state of abject misery. That often is the only way for the SParent to end their own misery while preserving their marriage with any level of quality and long term viability.

IMHO of course.