I am a divorced single mom of two boys ages 10 & 11. I also have a live in boyfriend. We have been together for about 3 years. The divorce hit my kids hard and they spent many months away from their father, who they see now once or twice a week. Lately the boys have been giving me a hard time, when I ask them to do something, I have to ask a few times before they do it, and they are constantly arguing with each other just like boys do, typical for their age. This makes my boyfriend crazy (who was an only child, raised by his grandparents, and doesn’t know what it is like to have a brother or sister to argue with) and he gets so angry that he yells at my kids. This upsets me because his yelling scares them. He is very loud and talks very demeaning to them. He also watches my kids while I am at work and I end up getting phone calls all day long at work from them crying that he is yelling at them and punishing them. He has never hit them or anything like that. Now when they go visit their father, they tell him about the way my boyfriend acts and then he calls me and we end up fighting because I tell him that he has the right to send them to their room when they misbehave when I am not home. He feels that my new boyfriend has no right to do this and he tells my kids that the next time my boyfriend tells them to do something, to basically tell him to f* off… they don’t tell my boyfriend that, but I get so angry because he is teaching my children to disrespect adults.
My boyfriend’s actions get them so upset they cry to me and their father all the time about how much they hate my boyfriend and that they want to live with their dad and his new girlfriend. Whenever I am having a conversation with my kids, whether it’s about something that happened earlier in the day, or an argument that my children had with each other, my boyfriend butts in from the other room and yells things like, “From now on when you two argue, you both will be punished.” I get so frustrated because while I’m trying to resolve the problem with them, he doesn’t have the right to butt in and then he and I argue when I tell him to butt out !!! (I don’t tell him to butt out in front of the kids) He tells me that since he lives in the house, that he is affected by their behavior and has the right to say whatever he wants! I am so stressed, I don’t even know what to do!!! Besides this issue, my boyfriend is very good to me and makes me happy. What do you suggest? Help!!
Jes, this boyfriend has got to go. There are different kinds of abuse – physical and emotional. This bully is verbally and emotionally abusive, not just to your kids, but to you too. You say he doesn’t hit them but the way this is going, that’s probably just a matter of time. These poor kids must be overwhelmed right now. To begin with, they’re going through adolescence and that alone is tough enough. You said the divorce hit them hard so they are dealing with the loss of their dad and upheaval of their family. And now they have this loud and abusive guy scaring them – how would you feel? They tell you he scares them and you leave them alone with him all day? Why are you putting your children through this trauma?
I agree with your ex-husband that this boyfriend has no right to discipline your boys, but I would not suggest that the boys confront the bully either. I agree that your ex should not be teaching the kids to disrespect adults, but your boyfriend has no respect for you either. He butts into you conversations because you allow him to. When he says “he is affected by their behavior and has the right to say whatever he wants” I totally disagree. He does not have that right. He is just a visitor, a boyfriend, and a lousy one at that. Jes, the situation you’ve created is not healthy for your boys. You need to take back your role as parent and get this guy away from the boys. He needs to get his own place and if you can’t live without him, then see him on your own time, at his place. Remember too that children learn by example. Do you want your boys to grow up to be mean and abusive? By allowing that to happen in your home, you are sending the message that it’s okay but I think you know it’s not. That’s why you wrote to me. You say “besides this issue, he is good to you and makes you happy. 1) He is not good to you – he is abusive. 2) “This issue” is the most important thing in your life (the well being of your children) and needs fixing. 3) You are not happy. If you need a man in your life, you could probably find a better one. Don’t abandon your kids for him. This guy will be gone soon enough but your sons will be your sons forever. They have to come first. They need you to step up now. Eliminate the problem. Eliminate the boyfriend.