You are here

Alpha step dad

sla1973's picture

I feel so torn between my husband and my 18 year old son that lives at home and it going to college.  I feel like a lot of Grace needs to be given on both sides with a new instance of remarriage and a new man coming into the household.  My husband is so old-school and demands respect and gets quite angry quite often and nit picks. my son pays for his car and insurance and does chores when I asked him to, but to my husband it's never enough.. he's constantly saying that he'll never be a man because Im too protective.  the reason I'm protective is because my ex-husband did not treat our son very well and is not in his life much at all.  It's been us to for the past 10 years. I feel like it's a constant pissing match between the two of them.  My son is non-confrontational like me so he takes the brunt of it, but when things get escalated I can definitely feel the heat and wedges are being built... I hope I can get some men's perspective on this. I feel like I'm completely in the middle and I have to take sides. I wouldn't consider myself overbearing but I do not like anger being directed at my child. It's getting quite old. 


Any thoughts or advice on this kind of an issue?


lieutenant_dad's picture

When you say he demands respect, what does he mean by that? What is your son doing that is considered "disrespectful"?

Ultimately, what you're going to have to realize is that your home is now your and your DH's home. Your son has no stake in it any longer other than as a house guest or roommate. Your son doesn't get to make the rules. He doesn't get to choose which chores he does or doesn't do. He is an adult and needs to be treated like an adult, with the same expectations that you put on adults who contribute to a household.

Now, that doesn't necessarily mean he pays rent and utilities, especially since he is in college. But he should have a part-time job and should be paying for his own stuff. He should be expected to get good grades. He should be expected to move out and in with roommates by age 20 (I totally understand not paying for a dorm when you don't have to, but he does need to go live with others his own age sooner rather than later). He needs to not be asked to do chores; he should just have a list of things he does without having to be asked.

And your DH's comfort needs to come above your son's. This is your DH's forever home with you. This is your son's halfway house between high school and the real world. You need to be pushing your son to WANT to move out and be part of the world.

You don't have a loyalty bind here. You married your husband. He is the person you have CHOSEN. That doesn't mean it is okay to allow him to be mean to your son, but it does mean you need to work with HIM to make your collective home more comfortable for HIM and YOU. Again, your son is a roommate, not a partner.

Step-girlfriend's picture

All of This^^^ Even my 9 and 12yr Old skids have daily set chores, there is no reason an 18yr old shouldn’t. Might I add, that you mention being protective because of the divorce. Often times on this site that equals babying and allowing the kids to get away with more than others, which is extremely frustrating for the step-parent. That may or may not be the situation in your case, but imagine if your husband had an 18yr old daughter/son living with you that he was always defending no matter what they did. Trust me, It’s not easy to be in that situation. I would just make sure you’re not looking at things just from the position of a mother that has unconditional love for her son. Try and put yourself in your DH’s shoes and really see your sons faults from his point of view, and see what you could do to make it easier for your DH.

futurobrillante99's picture

You remember your son as a little boy. Your husband does not. He is sharing his home with another man who was the man of the house for years. Yes, it’s a pissing contest but 18 year old males are notorious for being disagreeable know it all butt heads before going to college. You don’t need to protect your son - he’s a man. Unless you think the man you married is being abusive.


SteppedOut's picture

What is your son doing that is disrespectful?

Does he pick up after himself and have "regular chores"? Or just randomly does things when you ask? 


Curious Georgetta's picture

Regarding your continued contributions and expectations of your son. You have a 10 year arrangement in place and a planned  timeline for continuing the  current arrangement.

Your son should be unfailingly polite and civil to your husband  . Respect, however, cannot be demanded; it can only be commanded. 

Your son and  your husband will only respect each other when their respective behaviors warrant respect.

It may be difficult for your son to view a man who married his mother and yet did not move her into a home that the husband provided, as the man of the house. He likely sees your husband as the man who moved into.his  mom's house.

Sort out what  matters to you and let them continue to spend time  marking their territory.

When you have grown sufficiently tired of the  immaturity that they are both displaying, you can advise them both that civility and serenity Wil govern your household. You should not be funding any of your son's expenses with money provided by your husband.

Your husband should not be assigning tasks to your  college age child that he found living in  your home. I assume that your husband found a task distribution in place when he moved into your home. He should not be expected to tidy up after your son.

At the end of the day, both these adults may be dependent upon your largesse. Both are old to have found a less contentious way of resolving their differences. Neither seems to be vested in your happiness but instead are involved in  childish  territory marking.

Your problem is that you are trying to fix the actions of the people in your environment. You cannot do that. What you can do is  to tell them how you intend to live and invite those who are willing to live  compatibly and peacefully to stay and share the home that you provide or suggest that they leave and find an environment  consistent with their personal expectations.

No one should have to spend the second half of their life   trying to rear  adults who are growing older but have not yet grown up







Myss.Tique D'Off's picture

The first man was non-interested, and the second seems abusive and controlling.
You may be over-protective of your son, but what kind of "man" denigrates another, demands respect and feels threatend by an 18 yo? You wrap this up in old-school?  Wrong. It is excusing crap behaviour.
Nope, no matter who it is, I will not stand for threats, abuse or a crappy attitude towards my child - and I don't care how old he is. Marrying someone, doesn't mean you are wedded to their opinions or treatment of the people you love - especially your children. I would not choose a husband over my son, when on appearance, it seems your husband has an attitude problem.

ctnmom's picture

And OP, your DH is NOT "alpha". An "alpha" man is not threatened by an 18yo young man.

Swim_Mom's picture

sorry but if anyone treated one of my kids like that, he would out before he knew what had happened. I don't buy "old school". There are adult and mature ways of setting rules and expectations. Get rid of that POS.

tog redux's picture

I can see both sides here - on the one hand, your DH shouldn't be coming in trying to lay down the law and make a man out of your son; on the other hand, the "I'm overprotective because it was just the two of us and his father wasn't involved" screams enmeshment between you and your son, and perhaps you aren't seeing the ways you coddle him and delay his independence, as mothers sometimes do when it's just them and their son together for years.  It's just what BM would say about why SS19 is still so dependent on her (my DH wanted to be involved but was alienated, perhaps your ex really did just neglect his son).

I'd suggest you both sit down with an open mind to each other's point of view and talk this out.

What_did_i_just_sign_for's picture

My ex-husband and my son were like this (he was not his father).  I'm pretty sure this was the beginning of the end of us (there were many other issues)  because I felt a lot of resentment towards him about the constant tension.

Felt like he was being nitpicky ... every. little. thing. was up for argument.

I felt defensive of my son and would swoop and and coddle afterwards.

Looking back now, it was a mistake.  I shouldn't have handled it like that and been more on my husband's level.

Live and learn.  

Rags's picture

It is abundantly clear that you married an asshole.  You can change that. Find a real man who does not get his jollies through intimidating his wife and her son.

elkclan's picture

My mom and stepfather got married when I was 18 and already away at university. He was 'old school' and tried to lay down the law with me. It was awful. I didn't take well to that. I was simply like "Who is this guy?" My mom's remedy to this was to push us more together and DEMAND that I be happy for her and I did not take well to that either. No one gets to tell anyone else how to think or feel. Standards of behaviour can be expected but that's about it. 

Some guys try to establish dominance straight away and think going in hard will make it good. Well, it didn't. And it caused a lot more problems than it solved. I dealt with it by staying very far away. I now live in a completely different country across a big ocean. That was much more about my narc mother than her husband, but the way she handled that relationship didn't help either. 

Funny thing is though - as time went on he was soooo much more respectful of my adulthood than my mother was and we got on fine. 

The generous interpretation of this is that he's feeling an outsider and doesn't really know how to establish a relationship with your son and he's choosing the wrong tactic. The less generous interpretation is that he doesn't want the kid there and he's trying to drive him out. The worst interpretation is that you've picked an abusive dud. 

Counselling can help you sort this out. Hope it's the former rather than the latter. 

Monkeysee's picture

I can see both sides here too. Your husband sounds aggressive. Coming into a house with guns blazing is a horrible approach, and telling you and/or your son that he’ll never be a man is abusive. He needs counselling.

At the same time, you shouldn’t be holding your spouse accountable for the damage done by your child’s father, it has nothing to do with him. My DH used to do this to me all the time in our marriage (not about skids). He used to say how bad he had it & blah blah blah. It took a while but I finally realized what he was doing & told him I would no longer be held to ransom for his past with his ex. That was his issue, he chose to marry & stay married to her. He chose to be miserable, not me, and I was done paying for it. It’s not your husbands fault your ex isn’t/wasn’t in your sons life.

I don’t condone his behaviour though. Being ‘alpha’ doesn’t mean being an aggressive abusive ahole who bulldozes everyone to make a point or get his way. If you want to stay with him & make this marriage work, I’d highly suggest counselling for the pair of you.