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Need help defending my views to dh

tryingjusttrying's picture

I'm going to have a serious talk with my dh about SS, 18 yo. I would like to ask for suggestions on how to counter dh's likely objections below because I think he and I are both under certain fuzzy assumptions that have shaped our habits. I need clarity myself. He is definitely under the sway of wanting to compensate for SS's losses and dh has ideals about what my role should be, especially because I have very good and meaningful relationships with young people in my life - my son, nieces and nephews, and friends' kids.

Typically, SS comes here on the weekends, but since his dad works very late M-F, SS will come over on a Friday afternoon well before his dad gets home (midnight or later). As I've posted before, SS hates the idea of "asking for permission", but dh insists that he give me a head's up, which SS reluctantly has been doing though not very far in advance. But ever since the recent incident in which SS stayed here for an extended period outside of the usual visitation, I want to insist that 1. SS should not be here if his dad isn't home. But if he has to be here without his dad, it has to be on my terms. Up until now, SS makes plans with his dad only and I only get a head's up after the plans are made. But from now on, I want to insist that SS makes plans directly with me if he's here on a Friday evening without his dad. SS needs to tell me when to expect him, and commit to walking the dog or talk with me about accommodating him. I know SS is going to balk if dh tells him to make plans with me directly.

*Dh might ask me why I want this. SS feels more comfortable making plans with him, so why force SS to make plans with me directly?

Normally, if SS and I butt heads, I would normally text dh to do something or ask if he's okay with me giving a consequence. But I want to tell dh that if I'm here alone with SS, it's my call - the rules and the consequences. No more consulting dh about what actions I take.

*Dh is likely to say that I should try to make things better between SS and me by trying to engage him in more fun, meaningful ways. He thinks that me making and enforcing rules are going to deepen the conflict between SS and me. Dh would rather be the one to discipline SS.

Dh gets really nervous about letting me make my own judgements about how to manage SS. I think there are several factors. Dh had a stepmother who was quite authoritarian and inflexible. He really despised her, but now actually likes her. But I think he worries that I will be oppressive (despite me not having that in my personality at all). Also SS has had a history of being the "bad kid" in middle school. He's less overtly "bad" now, more machiaveillan and a lot less likely to get caught. But dh got really scarred from the middle school experience (got called in constantly and told by the administrators how "bad" SS was quite literally). Dh reacts with extreme rage whenever I even hint that SS is not perfect. Because I have good relationships with other young people, I think dh is a little sore that I haven't been able to forge one with SS and makes him wonder if I couldn't try harder. But that's not going to happen here because SS is quite jealous of dh's time with me. Apparently, SS went through a period in which he raged about me constantly to dh. I don't think he does that now, but when SS gets a chance, he tells people how I treat him terribly and how I exclude him from everything. Word has gotten back to me indirectly. This is quite funny because I tried so hard for so long to make a good relationship with SS. He turned down my cookies and treats, and refused to acknowledge or talk to me, and after a while turned overtly hostile. I only disengaged about a year ago. But now his narrative is that I have "never accepted him." The best possible relationship now is that SS and I maintain a distant respectful homeostasis. in that, either dh trusts me with SS and let me make my own relationship with him when he's here, or have SS not come here without dh.

*Dh is likely to say that since SS is 18 and independent, I don't need to supervise him, and I can go on living my life doing what I need to do without being bothered by his presence. The last incident in which SS brought a friend over without giving me a head's up, dh did agree SS should have given me a head's up, but later said that nothing SS nor his friend interfered with anything I was doing, so why am I mad? I'm not expected to provide meals for SS. I want to convey to dh that just SS presence changes how I am here. But I don't feel like it's sufficiently convincing. I feel invalidated by dh claiming that as long SS is quiet and doesn't need my attention, then it's almost as though he's not there, so I shouldn't try to interfere.

I want to have the talk with dh this weekend. Thank you for any thoughts you may have. I'm slowly learning and unlearning the things I need to to make my situation workable. This board has been a godsend. I've stopped beating myself up simply for having reactions that are completely reasonable given SS's behaviors and given the circumstances. I feel kind of selfish for posting again because I just did not too long ago, but I do not know where else to turn for help in this. Thank you.

tryingjusttrying's picture

I wanted to add this very important point. Dh is under the sway of a kind of egalitarianism. I think of myself as egalitarian too and feel that in their own way, everyone should be treated with respect. But I can't quite make dh understand how my role in the house is going to be different from SS's. Dh is definitely okay with his own authority over SS. But we decided a while back that I would be more of a friend than a disciplinarian to SS. But I realized that that doesn't work for many reasons, especially when you're dealing with a kid who is inclined to be defiant.

But both dh and SS still holds on to a distorted sense of egalitarianism. SS asks why he should let me know his comings and goings when I don't tell him mine, nor do I consult with SS when we have friends over for dinner.

I can't quite find the words. But I am the adult and would, in an emergency, have full responsibility for what goes on here. With that responsibility, I get to have a little more say in how things are going to go down. I think me saying that to dh makes him think that I'm trying to lord over SS, and power-tripping. But I think that parameters and boundaries could only be a good thing for SS. He is parentified by his BM and is often given a little too much responsibility over there. To such a person, maybe boundaries and oppression are one and the same.

notsurehowtodeal's picture

DH is a big part of your problem. "SS asks why he should let me know his comings and goings when I don't tell him mine, nor do I consult with SS when we have friends over for dinner." DH needs to immediately shut down this type of talk. While SS may be "of age," he is far from being an actual adult and contributes exactly nothing to the household - which is owned by you and DH. You don't owe him an explanation about anything you do - ever. There should be no egalitarianism in this situation.

Honestly, I would change the locks and not give him a key. I know you said DH would be upset by this, but unless SS can live by your rules, he shouldn't be able to come as he pleases into your house.

tryingjusttrying's picture

I agree. When the time comes, I want to convey to dh that 18 means you are emancipated from your childhood home (I'm borrowing this from Rags). That means that you get MORE say in your life IN YOUR OWN life and home. That does not mean you get more control over this home.

Rags's picture

Egalitarianism is conceptually very noble.  In reality, it is naive and virtually unobtainable.

I struggle with your comment that "I think me saying that to dh makes him think that I'm trying to lord over SS, and power-tripping." This makes it highly doubtful to me that your DH thinks much at all.

Egalitarian perspectives do not take into consideraiton age, experience, success, standing, bility, etc. Iin otherwords, reality.

That DH has raised his kid to believe that he is the equal of his fathers wife is a monumental parenting failure.

Equal rights, absolutely. Equal opportunity while conceptually just, is not granted. It is earned.  Opportunty is IMHO strongly a factor of personal performance.

That a kid thinks they are the equal of an adult is bad enough. That that kid would think that adults have to check in with them, get their permission for visitors or guests, is beyond comprehension to me. That your DH created this in his kid and continues to tolerate it, nope.

The naivete that has surfaced in your DH and his gene pool makes me sad for you.

Take care of yourself. 

tryingjusttrying's picture

Thanks Rags. Maybe being American and believing in equal rights, I find it hard to say that my words count more than someone else's, but I just know that as an older person it does in this case. Like you say, more wisdom, experience, and if something happens, I am in charge and have to take responsibility. I don't have this issue with my own son because he has a lot of trust in me that I'm going to act according to his welfare. I do believe SS knows that I will do right by him ultimately. But he and I are just so different. Me and BM have radically different styles.

Rags's picture

You don't have these issues with your son because you are a quality parent.  Your son won the mom lottery.

Sadly, for your Skid, his entire gene pool is apparently shallow and polluted.

I feel for you in this.  Regarding your DH and your SS, I have little positive to say.  I know that this is not the comprehensive view of either of them. However, it smells of a broadly flawed dynamic that they are both actively wallowing in.

When this kid launches, how is he going to deal with a boss giving him specific direction? How is he going to deal with having to actually perform on tests, assignements, at work, etc? His words won't mean crap compared to the words of those in authority over him.

Daddy and SS need to buckle up because reality is going to sting.

Take care of you and shield your child from this.

Give rose

tryingjusttrying's picture

I decided to get out of the house and take BS to the movies last night. Apparently SS didn't have plans, so since he was at home, dh and I asked him to take the dog out for both his early evening and last of the night walk. I get a text from SS while at the movies requesting that I take the last of the night walk with the dog. He said he couldn't because he had an essay due. I have reason to suspect that excuse - the essay is due on  a Friday night? Even if it was, SS doesn't really care about school deadlines. It's incredible to even to think it, but he wanted me to get back to take the dog out because he did the early evening walk. So two walks on one night is too much?  I told him I would be back past his last walk time. SS said fine ultimately, but I just don't get this guy. I cannot imagine my BS or nieces trying to manipulate a grown up into doing one of their chores. Mind you, I do every morning walk while SS and the dog are here, and often SS is out on Friday and Saturday nights, so my dh and I usually cover that too. SS has no other chores in this house. That's another thing I would change if I could gain more authority. Not only that, I'm pretty apalled that SS has so little regard for his dog that he has had for 8 years. Unless he's forced to, SS never feeds the dog, puts out his bed, or takes him for a walk on his own accord. SS sometimes drops off the dog when no one is home and there will be no water in his bowl.

So I agree with you, Rags. But my dh has rose colored glasses on and that won't change any time soon.

Cover1W's picture

This tells me he has no empathy. He just doesn't care about other living things or people. He should not have a pet and rules should come hammering down. If he doesn't understand how consideration, politeness and self awareness work, he needs to go live on his own and find out.

Survivingstephell's picture

A real  simple way to make it clear the difference between a wife and a son and the hierarchy is to take sex off the table for DH.  The role of spouse comes with benefits that are not afforded to others.  He vowed to forsake all others right?   Making all in the house equal just turns you all into robots that keep the house running.  IMO 

ESMOD's picture

I know dealing with "adult" skids can be difficult.. and it sounds like he is still in "child" mode with his parents.. and has not launched to adult hood yet.. maybe some of that will improve things?  when will that happen?

But, I will be honest.. some of your arguments that you are framing in your husband's voice are pretty valid. particularly the following one.  Because I heard it said that "correction without connection breeds resentment"... and not being the bio parent.. when correction comes from you.. it is not coming from a place of bio parent unconditional caring and love.. it's coming from your desire to control your surroundings.. including your SS.

*Dh is likely to say that I should try to make things better between SS and me by trying to engage him in more fun, meaningful ways. He thinks that me making and enforcing rules are going to deepen the conflict between SS and me. Dh would rather be the one to discipline SS.

I mean.. if most of us look back on being teens.. we were not necessarily giving our parents "notice" every time we were coming home.  I know it's a little more complex with Steplife and knowing a "window of arrival time".. so that you aren't dancing nude in the livingroom is absolutely appropriate.

But, I actually think that if your SS tells your SO and your SO tells you.. that's acceptable.  Because, it's likely he and his dad communicate more frequently and about things aside from just his coming and goings... so if he is on the phone with dad.. and tells dad.. that should be considered telling the household.  Now, if you have a need to directly communicate because there is a lot of back and forth?  then maybe you need to just make your SO suffer that consequence.. have him be your messenger boy.. and he may figure out it's inefficient for the kid to not call you when it requires discussion and negotiation.  But for a typical.. I will be there at 8 on Friday.. especially if it's his normal visitation weekend?  Dad can relay that message to you.. I mean.. it's not unexpected that the kid will be over.. it is a matter of time window.. I think being too controlling in making the kid have the extra communication is makng him jump through an extra hoop.. and that isn't going to improve how he views things.

BUT.. if he is talking about having other people over?  That's a bit different in the kind of request he makes.. and how far in advance he makes it.  The bottom line is that he is not a head of the household.. and you get to have a say over house guests.. so if he talks to DH.. DH needs to confer with you.. and the answer can be "no".

I do understand your point that having an extra person in the house is "different".. probably for the express reason that this kid doesn't seem to care for you a whole lot... so even if you aren't having to do anything "for him".. it still impacts what you  might call your general enjoyment of the home.  

And.. I guess I would ask what specific concerns you might have about having him in the home.. are you worried that you can't leave him alone there.. has he destroyed things.. stolen.. do you think he will raid the liquor cabinet.. so you and your DH feel he has to be monitored?

I agree that if his son is being a problem that you should be able to tell him to "stop" doing something that is destructive or dangerous.. but if it is a "punishment".. it should wait until dad comes home honestly.. beyond the immediate "your friend needs to go now".. after you catch them vaping or whatever.

I also think you and your SO have a basic difference in perspective about the home.  Your DH sees it as his son is welcome in his home.. because the home is his son's residence too.. you see SS as a visitor.. not a resident.. but your DH sees any home of his is his son's home too.  

I guess it really depends on how long you see this dynamic of his son doing "visitation" lasting... and whether it's worth having a conversation that might cement or put a focus on what your SO may take as a rejection of his son... and by proxy himself... and you say that your husband flies into rages..(about everything or just his son?)... 

In the end.. you may have to crystalize exactly what you need to happen.. and it may not be 100% your way... because sometimes you can be right.. but not happy.. so you have to choose to accept things you can't control in life.

And your SS is a teen in that weird almost adult.. no one can tell me what to do pushback era... so the constant fight to get him to comply with "notice" is basically making you "the man" he is rebelling against.. you are making yourself that target by being very strict about the policy and how you want it to be administered.. it's why he is maliciously compliant.. like a union worker who is only doing the bare minimum of their job requirement during a negotiation of their contract to push their own autonomy.

What I would suggest is instead of the onerous "notice" thing.. that the need for notice is reduced to the following.  And.. I think you offer this up in the vein of you being a "reasonable person that doesn't hate his kid".

For the kid's regular visitation weekends.. have some guard rails on his arrival time.. or at least a "curfew".. he has to be at the house by 10PM.. or it is assumed he is staying at BM's.   That's it.. no need to call.. if he WILL be coming (alone).. he just needs to arrive by 10PM.. you KNOW he will arrive at some point that day.. you can be prepared by not being nekkid in the living room that day.     He is home to BM's by 9pm on Sunday  (if that's the way the weekends go).  If you work from home.. and he is disruptive prior to 5pm on Friday.. set that as the "start time"

He needs to ask permission to have guests over.. and that permission must be granted at least 2 hours prior to the arrival of any guest.  No overnight guest.. no exceptions.  Permission can be asked of Dad.. but Dad must confer with you to make sure it is ok.. and will then confirm with his child.

He needs to ask permission to stay longer or come over on days when it is not his visitation.. because you may have your own plans that are not compatible with his son being over... take up hatha yoga in the living room...haha.

You do have the right to control what happens in the home.. so if SS is there and blasting metal punk rock at 15.. you have the right and his blessing to tell the kid to knock it off.. but your SO retains the right to mete out punishments. .if your SS won't listen to requests like the above.. then THAT is a reason why you can tell your SO that you cannot be responsible for a kid that will not listen to you... it's unsafe.

I know you want to force this kid to comply.. but at this point.. the dynamic is pretty set.. and honestly.. your SO is a lot of the problem.. because Idon't think he has any problem with how things happen.. he is trying to mollify you by getting his son to give notice. if it was up to him.. that wouldn't happen.  And the more you try to get him in line.. the more he pushes back and resents you.. making the dynamic worse.. disengaging or setting it up so you are not really a big part of his son being at the home.. is probably going to ultimately make you more peaceful. 

Because right now.. you get upset when he complies in ways you don't like.. and since you have set it up that he has to do this every time..there are more chances for him to skewer you.. reduce it by reducing the need for communication period.. just set time frames.. and have him only commuunicate the exceptions.. fewer instances for him to maliciously comply.. more peace for you.

tryingjusttrying's picture

Thanks for this perspective, Esmod. I hear you about perhaps not going down the road of increasing contact and having to communicate with SS. I am pondering your suggestion that for scheduled times, I should just leave it alone. If SS misses Friday nights here, that also means less of a chance  for dh to see him Saturday morning or noonish, which dh says he would miss because the weekend is short enough. So back to your point, maybe just suck it up and treat Friday night as an expected thing, and not change how we communicate about that.

But you also seemed to be suggesting that I do ask to be consulted about non-scheduled visitations. I think that hits upn THE dillemma that you point out, Esmod, I haven't been in the position to discipline SS, but if SS is here without dh, I feel helpless because I don't feel like I can be the grown up in charge and can make spontaneous decisions on the ground. When SS's friend came over without SS asking, I wish I could have just said 'no' on the spot. But I didn't feel empowered to make that decision. My feelings of stress are stemming from being hobbled to be fully the lady of the house. To not have to ask permission from either SS or dh to make decisions that I have earned as a trusted adult. But maybe you're right. Maybe I'm just asking for a bruising by wanting SS to be more accountable to me directly.

One thing that I think was really helpful in the incident with the friend. When dh learned that SS did not give me a head's up, he told SS that his friend couldn't stay. SS was so pissed. But that was the first time that SS had a consequence over something to do with me. I thought it was a good thing that SS couldn't just ignore my presence and do whatever he wanted. I thought that maybe if he had more accountability to me directly, he would be forced to acknowledge my place in the home. Right now, I wonder if his making plans only with dad is another way that SS can continue to carry on as though I don't matter, that he doesn't have to consider me at all in his plans. I also don't like the fact that they'll work out all of the details and what SS would like to do, and I only get the plans after they work it out. My perspective is not part of the planning despite the fact that I am the grown up who has to be here sometimes without dh. But on a practical level, I can't say that my plans are messed up usually. Dh takes that to mean that I shouldn't have  problem with SS being here because I really can't point to a specific plan that was messed up. Even dying my hair and doing a facial can be done in the presence of SS and his friend, so dh can't see what the problem is.

ESMOD's picture

Yeah.. so you absolutely should be able to veto a visitor.. whether you have a headache.. the house is a mess.. whatever your reason is.. you DO and SHOULD have the ability to get a heads up on visitors in your home.. and that includes SS on days that he is not expected to be there for visitation.

I know different homes operate differently.. some parents have open door policy for their kid's friends.. some parents demand prior planning.. my parents were in the latter camp.. we didn't just bring people over without asking.

I think you SHOULD have the right to veto visits.. it isn't always convenient.. or wanted.. and that is a hill I would die on.. you have to be able to have that small amount of authority in your home at least.

The difference is that he is not your bio kid.. and that at 18.. for's like having another grown man not related to you in the home.. so some of the  things you might want to do are not things you are totally up for doing when there are other men in the house... like your beauty or exercise routine etc.. 

tryingjusttrying's picture

This exactly: "The difference is that he is not your bio kid.. and that at 18.. for's like having another grown man not related to you in the home.. so some of the  things you might want to do are not things you are totally up for doing when there are other men in the house... like your beauty or exercise routine etc.. "

Rumplestiltskin's picture

"Dh is likely to say that I should try to make things better between SS and me by trying to engage him in more fun, meaningful ways. He thinks that me making and enforcing rules are going to deepen the conflict between SS and me. Dh would rather be the one to discipline SS."

This sounds like you are talking about an 8-year-old, not an 18-year-old. I doubt an 18-year-old will want to engage you in fun meaningful ways. And he's right, you shouldn't be disciplining an 18-year-old and if he needs a lot of discipline at 18, you shouldn't be forced to live with him and let him dictate when he comes and goes from your house. From what you say about him being a behavior problem at his middle school, having him home isn't without it's aggravations.

There is nothing wrong with you not wanting an 18-year-old behavior problem kid bouncing back and forth between your house and BM's house at his own whim and without warning. You are not selfish. Your DH, his father, is unable to effectively manage his behavior or get him to stick to a routine that isn't disruptive to you.

Without reading your history, i'm going to guess that SS's grades aren't good and he doesn't have a firm plan for transitioning to mature independent adulthood after high school. I don't know what to tell you to do, but i want you to know that i don't think you are wrong or selfish for not being happy in this situation. Your feelings are valid. 


tryingjusttrying's picture

Thanks Rumplestilksin. I appreciate the reminder. I think that's a good correlation to make: if he has high needs for discipline at 18, that should entail less time with someone not empowered to discipline. But even if SS is disrespectful towards me, he still needs time with his dad. He can get more time with him if he has overnights here during school breaks and Friday nights even though that entails the majority of time spent with the SM. I'm just trying to see if having more say over his time here and being able to have him accountable to me would help me feel more settled when SS is over.

Harry's picture

Not a kid. Two. It's your home , you are queen of your home..   you pay for it, up keep it, buy the food,  He must understand he's a guest.He must tell you what day, time he's coming, how long he staying asking if this is o.k. With you. 

CLove's picture

What is it with these bioparents vision of the kids and their spouses being of equal authority??? This has also occured in my house and I have tried to explain logically. I am the QUEEN of my home. 

You pay for the home, you make the rules. And its a dictatorship. 

Whats wrong with a group text between you, husband and ss, so you are in on it and can vetoe at any time without some sort of "chain" thing?

ESMOD's picture

The real suck is that whenever there IS a veto?  the assumption is that it is always the SP that said no.

My SO used to tell the kids when they were young.. "let me talk to Esmod.. I will let you know".. so that makes them feel like the answer is yes from him.. but he needs to check with me.

A few times it was completely ridiculous requests that the girls wanted to attend some concert with friends at 12 years old.. in a major city with no chaperone.. I was like.. you really thought you needed to talk with ME?  that's an automatic NO. lol... he thought he was being good to include me in the conversation.. but it kindof painted me as the bad guy.. I pointed it out.. and he started telling them.. "I am not sure that's a good idea.. let me think about it".. then we could talk about it.. haha

CLove's picture

Husband has openly admitted that its easier to use me as the excuse for no - and not just with the skids - friends too!

He is a people pleaser to extreme measures.

Several times hes thrown me under the Bus, so now I have become The Bus Driver.

Winterglow's picture

What a pathetic cowardly thing to do. He can't even assume his responsibilities without blaming his spouse? Gawd... Sorry CLove, but how do you stand for that?

CLove's picture

I tell him and make it known very loudly. But what repercussions would be suitable. Name calling? IDK.

So, if it get barnical buddy out of my garage before 10 then fine, Ill drive that bus.

tryingjusttrying's picture

I have to think about this one. Is it better to make it known to SS that dh has to check with me about plans (because my voice counts) but potentially villify me, or is it better to avoid the appearance of being a decision maker? I'm leaning towards having dh say "let me think about it" because is true that in the situation when he checks with me, I never say no because I'm worried about being the bad guy.

tryingjusttrying's picture

Thanks Clove. Yup, a group text. I just did that yesterday with no fanfare. I guess I was waiting for dh to start one, but I initiated a text and it was fine. I think that'll help me feel more in the loop.

strugglingSM's picture

Yeah, this really gets me. DH would always talk about how he needed to "make things equal" between me and skids or make sure he was spending the same amount of time with us. I reminded him that I'm not his third child and I contribute to the household, so I have more say than non contributing kids, who can certainly share their opinions, but don't make decisions for our household. I also pointed out to him that my needing him to do things for me as my husband and partner (like pick me up at the airport or take care of things around the house) are not the same as entertaining his kids. I also asked him if his parents let him make decisions or made sure they spent equal time with everyone. 

It's totally a divorced dad guilt thing because now DH and I have our own kids and DH definitely does not view them as decision-makers or feel the need to make everything equal. He does not cater to them in the same way he catered to Skids.

strugglingSM's picture

I think you should talk to your DH about guidelines for SS when he stays with you. For example, he needs to let you know when he will be arriving and leaving. You can also set a curfew. We have a similar issue and I've reminded DH that our home is more a hotel. SS is almost 18, so we never know if he'll show up or not. This is supposed to be his weekend, but he came last weekend. Sometimes he comes after we are asleep and used to leave the door unlocked (we do not live in a place where you should keep your doors unlocked overnight. Now he comes in through the garage, so we know everything is closed up. We also never know what his schedule is, so we now make plans without him in mind. Also, I let DH communicate with SS and then I hold DH accountable if he doesn't know. Years ago, after tons of drama from BM and accusations from SSs that I was "mean" for among other things, expecting them to put their own trash in the garbage can, I decided I was "dad's wife" and not "stepmom".

tryingjusttrying's picture

I can relate to your situation, StrugglingSM. I do think it's a divorced dad thing to try and compensate for the kids having loss. But it seems that many times, it isn't possible to counteract the loss, so the sacrifices that the SM is just gratuitious. In terms of an almost 18 year old and schedules, at a certain point, SS was completely chaotic. Mostly typical teen stuff, but also intentional. Both SS and BM were motivated to mess with the schedule all the time, especially if BM knew we had plans. She would come up with sob stories, and dramatic illnesses, etc. and would insist that dh had to take care of it. She would do that either to sabotage  our plans or to get a break from SS (she has him M-F). SS changes the schedule up to get control and dictate when and where he goes. But dh is pretty good at managing that part. He'll just skip visitation if SS misses, so either SS follows the schedule, or he doesn't see his dad at all.

I'm dad's wife too. He's never called me stepmom nor thinks of me that way. We met when SS was 14.