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Hi this is my first post so apologies for any badly worded or explained detail. I (aged 30) have been with my wife (aged 40) for 10 years & things between us have become a bit difficult. She got out of an abusive relationship after she had her first son (now 14) when he was about 2. I met her when her son was 3 & we really hit it off as a couple. She is a beautiful & sexy woman whom I love very dearly but her son is becoming a really cheeky & lazy individual & it is creating tension through the house. Now, over the years he has done many things wrong (like we all have & like kids do- I understand & accept this as part of life & growing up) but the thing is she just will not tolerate the idea of punishing him for his current wrong doings. She put his bedtime from 10pm to 11pm (without consulting with me). On sunday night myself & my wife were tryting to settle our son (aged 4) in bed for the night & it was getting late (11:15pm). He had a rather long nap in the afternoon & conseqently wasn't that tired. I put my head down to try & sleep but could hear my stepsons tv so I got out of bed to tell him 'it was time for turning off'. I stopped at his door to ensure he did as anything you ask him to do has to be done at snail pace to just drag it out that bit longer. He turned to snap at me 'What!?'. I said 'i'm making sure you turn it off'. 'You just want to see me do what you say, I haven't got a bed time' to which I replied 'yes you do it's 11 o'clock. no later'. He proceeded to give me attitude & cheek & I started to lose my patience. I had given him my old smart phone (5 days prior) which is a damn nice piece of kit so I demanded it back. I was so mad that he could sit there & argue back (like he's done countless times before) after I have tried to give him a treat. Then my wife came in telling me to calm down & having a go at me! I was after all enforcing her bedtime arrangement because it was time he was getting his head down for school. The same thing happened when he used my credit card (the second time!) without my consent on his playstation network. I told him after the first time if he did it again that priveledge would be gone. The second time I was angry that my 4.5k credit limit had been used without permission (only about £12) again so I took his controller to delete my details. Strike 2 you're out!!! I couldn't remember where to access them so I threatened to wipe his hard drive. He ran sobbing downstairs to his mum because nothing else in life matters as much as his gaming & told her what was going off. She came upstairs, accused me of being a bully & started having a go. I was that mad I just argued back, I couldn't believe after trusting him to have my details that he has abused, she would just side with him & not back me up with my cause. It seems she nor I for that matter just cannot say anything to him. Everyone who I have spoken to about it says that it is bang out of order & that they'd have been mad too, but my wife just expects me to forget it like it's nothing. I work a full time job with a 3 shift pattern & am doing up our 2nd house (the 1st I finished & was ready for getting on with my life like a normal father/husband when my wife dropped the bombshell and said she wanted to move). I haven't got any spare money to treat my wife like i'd want & I just feel like my efforts for our household are just nothing because i'm out of the house alot with my shifts.It's like my opinion doesn't count in my own home but i'm ok to pay all thr bills & sort the house out. Why wont she back me up in these situations???? What message is she sending him having a go at me for things that he has done wrong???? Doesn't she realise she is making any future situations worse by arguing with me instead of telling him???? She says 'i'll have a chat with' him but the same things just happen again! Her 'chats' are never very weighty & it just seems like shes done it so she can say shes done it. She has never been one to carry any threats out (you know the sort- stop doing that or you're not having your game tommorow), he has just always had chance after chance after chance since being little. I say to her that we need house rules & if they are broken there will be consequences. That doesn't go down well. It seems she will just take whatever he does & is scared to say anything to him unless i say owt about it. Then of course i get the bully name calling again. We are both sick of arguing about it but she just will not tackle these issues as a united married couple should do. sorry for the long post but I have had alot to say. Any sensible replies would be much appreciated. Thanks.
 

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Fairly typical in a home with a step-child. Though married, your wife is only going to let you have so much authority over her biological child........ and he knows this and will use it to his advantage. On the other hand, non-biological parents tend to be a little bit sterner with step-children than with their own children.

Regardless, he's 14 and has your credit card information??? Really?
And he has a TV in his room???

It might be time to start treating your child like a child instead of an adult. Don't be afraid to discipline him or set rules. He's not going to love or like you any less. Be a parent, not a best buddy.
 

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You are right that the two of you should be a united front. However, what you describe is typical in step family situations. There are several reasons, and I could never think of them all to enumerate, but let me try to point a few of them........

1. Guilty Parent Syndrome
Divorced parents (and often times single parents too) almost always feel guilty for being divorced and not being able to provide the nuclear family environment for their children. Often times, women like your wife stay in abusive marriage/relationship for the sake of the kids. When the marriage/relationship ends, they spend a great deal of time and effort spoiling their children in effort to smooth or make up for the effects of not having that absent parent around on a daily basis. As part of the spoiling process, discipline goes out the window so as not to make the child more unhappy than the divorce already accomplished. I'm not justifying this method of raising kids. I'm just letting you know this is what happens so very, very often.

2. The Non-Related Authority Figure
You entered into the picture when her son was just a toddler. You didn't mention the relationship dynamic between you and the boy during those early years. Whatever that was, it is very often a child rejects the non-related parent (the step parent) as an authority figure when they reach teen years. No matter what you do for them (what you consider to be your treat) or have done in the past, the kid has reached an age (the know it all age of life) where he resents your authority and doesn't want you acting as an authority. This is nothing personal against you, so please don't let his insubordination hurt your feelings. It's just normal for him to act and respond the way he does, whereas your own son likely won't act that way except that teens become rebellious anyway. This is your stepson's rebellion based on his circumstances. Right or wrong, this is his position. Again, I'm just telling you the way it goes.

3. The Related Authority Figure
I already explained her feeling that she has to make up for not providing the nuclear family for her son. She also has spent a great deal of her marriage and motherhood feeling that she has to act as referee between the two of you, which is an unending task. She tries to quell the initial conflict and to appease both of you, she promises to chat with him and then deals with him in what you consider ineffective ways. To her, she has to deal with these situations and just wants to smooth them over with as little possibility of angering either of you as is possible. She will never admit it, but she prefers the child be disciplined by his own father. Thus, the guilty feelings for not providing him with that. At the same time, you are her husband. She wants you to be happy and not feel disrespected in your own home. So, she plays monkey in the middle because she hasn't the skills or the nerve to be more effective.

4. The Step Father
Step parents bring their own feelings and their own set of ideologies to the picture. Those ideologies are neither right nor wrong necessarily. They are just different, and they don't understand how the guilty parent feels. Without going into all of the ways the step parent is different and determines of all the relationship dynamics in the household, I will focus on you based on the information you gave. You are also a very typical stepfather, in that you want to exert your authority over the non-related child in the house. This is very common. Most stepfathers (and stepmothers too, but we're not talking about them) harbor some resentment toward their stepkids and continually finds fault. I believe you pick fights with your stepson, and that is one reason your wife is at a loss for how to handle the many conflicts. It isn't as though you will not just as well tell your own son to go to bed. It's just that you know what your stepson's reaction will be, so you create opportunity for conflict when you could just as well have asked your wife to tell him. It isn't necessary for you to exert authority or control, nor do you always have to let him push your buttons. You knew he would but insisted on starting another fight with him. You did it so that you could have an excuse to take back the gift. When you gave it to him, you knew you would find excuse to take it back to prove to yourself once again (and to create conflict again) that he is unworthy no matter how hard you tried to be nice. It wasn't a very nice gesture because you did it under the guise of generosity laden with ulterior motive. You will deny this but again, it is completely normal.

You both have bad parenting skills if you ask me. Life as a step parent can be a personal hell for the step parent and for all the family members when no one is cooperating. Something that can be a very effective tool in bringing peace to yourself and the household is to disengage from the step child. He is not your son, so you don't have to be directly involved in his daily life. Leave his discipline and daily tasks to his mother. You might not like how she does things when it comes to him, but you don't have to like it. You don't have to pick fights with him. You don't have to be right all the time either and make everyone in the house miserable. If you think about it, you dislike her parenting style, yet you had a child with her, so nobody's perfect. All that you must require is that your step son is not disrespectful to you, but you can't be disrespectful to him either.

Something else that will help is for you and wife to attend parenting classes so you can both be on the same page with what to do concerning your step son and how things should be done. She will learn the necessity of good parenting, and you will learn that you haven't always been right in your methods. You both will learn the proper methods. I should also mention family counseling with a therapist who is familiar with step family dynamics.

One more thing that will help a lot is to read the book Stepmonster by Wednesday Martin, Ph.D. The book is about step mothers and is based on her own experience, but you will glean a lot as a stepfather, too.
 

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I'm curious as to how many kids have you fathered by your present wife?

Do you or your wife have any behavioral problems with these kids you have had together?

As others above have pointed out, this is SOP with stepkids. Seen it all my life. Never seen it actually come to divorce, though, but close.
 
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