Autumn is officially here, and that means cold winds, early darkness and the hell that is a lot more time indoors with our kids. Did I say hell? I meant privilege and wonder ... ah, just bring the Ask Dad questions and we'll figure it out.
My husband's ex-wife lets the kids be disrespectful to me and their father. His 11-year-old son told me -- his stepmother! -- to "go f@*k yourself." He refuses to apologize, and his mother stands behind him. I don't want him teaching his half-sister and brother that we are going to allow that behavior in our house.
I think it's important to discern exactly what kind of "go f@*k yourself" it was. Was it a sarcastic, muttered "go f@*k yourself" or an angry, 'you're not my mother!'-style "go f@k yourself?"
Are we even sure "go "f@*k yourself means the same thing to kids these days? Maybe it's not even negative! I've been watching the evening news and they do everything different now. Do you know about this "sexting" stuff? Did you know that they say "making out" now includes oral sex? That just makes me sick. And jealous.
Everything I know about step-parents and step-kids comes from The Brady Bunch so I would suggest just letting things play out and it will all end in a warm scene in your pajamas and robes in the living room, with your husband dispensing wisdom and then turning out to be gay decades later.
No, that won't work. I have dealt with exes -- my own and my partners', and the kids that get in the mix -- and I know it's all about boundaries. You simply can not worry about her actions and certainly not her feelings.
She sounds like a nightmare. You're right, she should grab that little shit by the scruff of his neck, make him buy you a dozen roses and stand there and wait until he gives you a proper apology, then apologize to you herself for giving birth to him in the first place.
But do you think a woman who's good with her son telling his stepmother to "f@*k off" can be reasoned with? Do you think that just making the proper argument to her will persuade her that you're right, so long as you make it thoughtfully and smile while you say it?
It's not about the details anyway, it's about her tribe and her territory. And you're the biggest threat to both in her twisted head.
And for all these reasons, you should not even be talking to this woman.
If there needs to be communication it should be through your husband, but he should be careful too. It's all about boundaries. You can not change her attitude and you shouldn't try.
You and your husband need to establish the rules of your house and demand that they be followed, and say he can't stay there if he won't follow them. That's it. If you think his mom's a bad influence wait until his friends become teenagers, that'll show you the meaning of bad influence. You can't worry about it.
Yes, he's going to go running to his mom. But I guarantee he'll be back and he'll have more respect for you in the long run. Kids don't like total nightmare moms either, even if they seem to be taking their side all the time. They're going to lock horns soon enough and you may find yourself having to encourage him to spend more time with her.
I don't envy you as a step-mother. We're decades from Cinderella, and we've had plenty of Carol Bradys to change the image, but the idea of the wicked conniving mom-replacement is just too powerful to totally shake. But I think we're getting there. Just hang on for a few more decades.
Normally my advice is perfect, wrapped, tied and topped with a polka-dotted bow. But because your circumstances are so complicated, I'm going to really encourage commenters to weigh in.
What do you think should be done with a swearing step-son and his wicked birthmother?
Image via UrsulaSkjonnemad/Flickr