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Parenting Issues This forum is for discussing any of the parenting issues involved in your divorce, including parenting of step-children.

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  #1  
Old 07-19-2016, 01:13 PM
rockscan rockscan is offline
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Default Teaching your "adult" kids

Looking for some thoughts here.

My partner has issues with his kids. One wont speak to him due to alienation, the other kid is hanging on by a thread. This is the oldest in early 20s away at school most of the year.

They've come to a head with school costs. My partner has been telling kid since last year how important it is to stay organized, keep track of everything, be responsible, etc. Kids answer was "ya ya ya dad I got it". Well, kid lost receipts, lied right to dad about them while spending time with him, refuses to discuss anything and is all around ticked that she has to be an adult about her education and costs. Mom encourages this behaviour and turns it back on dad and the kids stand behind her because its no responsibility with mom. He's seeing his lawyer next week to wade through this bs and I know his lawyer is going to have some tough love for him (read: Im not advising you to pay for anything that doesn't have proof behind it).

The last few weeks Ive heard a lot of "I still have lessons to teach my kids" and "Im still their parent regardless of how they feel" and now "I'm tired of fighting with them". He cant win even a little ground because his ex has waged a successful "your father destroyed your life" campaign with them. If he says no they hate him. If he says yes they continue to use him as a doormat.

His therapist has said the same thing I did--you cant give in to this behaviour otherwise it will continue. She has advised him to be firm and demand respectful behaviour. Told him it would be difficult and he would be the bad guy but that he cannot allow them to mistreat him or hold their affection hostage. His brain agrees but his heart doesn't.

Its caused some unrest in our house as his moods are running hot and cold. He will blow up about the dumbest thing and then realize what he's doing and walk away. Ive told him I wont discuss or tolerate this crap. But I also want to be supportive and help him work through this. Ive told him I side with his therapist and lawyer. That he needs to stop letting his emotions determine his behaviour. He was giving in the first three years of the divorce and it got him nowhere (it actually perpetuated this behaviour). Until he accepts that he cant change their minds, he's going to continue being obstinate.

How does he stay strong? What worked for you guys? How did you counter this? What can I say other than Im here for you?
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  #2  
Old 07-19-2016, 02:19 PM
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blinkandimgone blinkandimgone is offline
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Originally Posted by rockscan View Post

They've come to a head with school costs. My partner has been telling kid since last year how important it is to stay organized, keep track of everything, be responsible, etc. Kids answer was "ya ya ya dad I got it". Well, kid lost receipts, lied right to dad about them while spending time with him, refuses to discuss anything and is all around ticked that she has to be an adult about her education and costs. Mom encourages this behaviour and turns it back on dad and the kids stand behind her because its no responsibility with mom. He's seeing his lawyer next week to wade through this bs and I know his lawyer is going to have some tough love for him (read: Im not advising you to pay for anything that doesn't have proof behind it).
One of the things I found that worked with my kids is instead of telling them what they need to do, teach them *how* to do what they need to do. It's easy to say "stay organized" as a theory, but practical application may elude them if nobody has equipped them with the tools or skills to do that. So give them a couple things to keep items organized, a folder for receipts, teach them how to use their calendar to set reminders for the future of upcoming items a day or two before they occur etc.

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The last few weeks Ive heard a lot of "I still have lessons to teach my kids" and "Im still their parent regardless of how they feel" and now "I'm tired of fighting with them". He cant win even a little ground because his ex has waged a successful "your father destroyed your life" campaign with them. If he says no they hate him. If he says yes they continue to use him as a doormat.
He absolutely has things left to teach his kids and his feelings are normal and justified. What he *does* need to accept is that you can't force life lessons on kids - or anyone, for that matter. There is an old saying that goes "When the student is ready, the teacher will appear." And it's very true, the kids will learn those lessons from him when they have accepted they need some guidance and are really ready to hear it. Continuing to try to force it on them will only prolong the amount of time it takes to happen - kids naturally push back. Both dad and the kids have a lot to learn and maybe a gentle reminder to dad that he has a responsibility to learn how to deal with this in a healthier way would be useful.

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His therapist has said the same thing I did--you cant give in to this behaviour otherwise it will continue. She has advised him to be firm and demand respectful behaviour. Told him it would be difficult and he would be the bad guy but that he cannot allow them to mistreat him or hold their affection hostage. His brain agrees but his heart doesn't.
His therapist is right. He doesn't have to demand the respect verbally, as that doesn't seem to be working. He will be more likely to get it if he disengages from the conversation when it turns disrespectful. No informing them required, simply disengage and when they choose to engage respectfully he is engaged 100% until it turns disrespectful and he disengages again. Arguing with the kids and insisting they be respectful does nothing but give them a platform to argue their position and be crappy to him. Take away their platform and you shut down the opportunity.

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Its caused some unrest in our house as his moods are running hot and cold. He will blow up about the dumbest thing and then realize what he's doing and walk away. Ive told him I wont discuss or tolerate this crap. But I also want to be supportive and help him work through this. Ive told him I side with his therapist and lawyer. That he needs to stop letting his emotions determine his behaviour. He was giving in the first three years of the divorce and it got him nowhere (it actually perpetuated this behaviour). Until he accepts that he cant change their minds, he's going to continue being obstinate.

How does he stay strong? What worked for you guys? How did you counter this? What can I say other than Im here for you?
In the same vein that the kids need to be equipped with skills to be organized rather than just a theory, he needs to be equipped with skills and tools on how to deal with his feelings, work through things, walk away etc. When his therapist says "you need to disengage" he needs to ask the question "what do I need to do to accomplish that?"

Distraction. Just like you would with a toddler. When you can see things going bad, engage him in something away from the issue. Take him by the hand and invite him to go for a walk with you. Because sometimes big humans, just like small humans, get overwhelmed by feelings they aren't equipped to deal with and you can diffuse a pending meltdown with a simple distraction.

This also reinforces that you are there for him, and engaged but the two of you don't have to discuss it or fight about it. Not everyone who rants is looking for advice, a solution or a hero. Sometimes they just need to get it out.

Last edited by blinkandimgone; 07-19-2016 at 02:21 PM.
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Old 07-19-2016, 02:40 PM
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So true Blink. He gave his kid some tools to use to keep her stuff for him organized and either it was lost or she just didn't care. He's hurt that she knew all this when they were together a few months ago and didn't take the time to talk to him. He feels hurt that she withheld that info and now he and his ex have to fight about it. The bigger problem is he chooses to fight it. His lawyer will say to him "its not a fight, no proof no pay" but then the kids are led to believe mom is so hard done by and dads an ass. Again though, he didn't create this situation. He gave them tools and they chose to disregard them. He said he wants to write kid an email expressing how he feels about this but because mom wants them to hate him and love her, she will just reinforce "dad is a jerk" rather than "if you had stayed organized we wouldn't be in this situation". He told me yesterday he was so surprised because his ex was such an organized parent who expected a set of behaviours. She may still be that way but not to him, she and the kids treat him disrespectfully because they feel he deserves it. But he doesn't have to take it.

It seems we're doing all the right things. We have been trying to get away, go outside, walk, do things we enjoy together and just disengage from it. When I know he is thinking about it I will take the opportunity to steer him to something fun or actually talk through things "how are you feeling, what do you think you should say/do, what do you think the reaction will be, how else can you approach it" etc. I know there isn't always a solution for things but sometimes he just wants things to be better or the way they were years ago. Unfortunately that may not happen so he has to live in this time with this situation.
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Old 07-19-2016, 03:01 PM
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Originally Posted by rockscan View Post
So true Blink. He gave his kid some tools to use to keep her stuff for him organized and either it was lost or she just didn't care. He's hurt that she knew all this when they were together a few months ago and didn't take the time to talk to him. He feels hurt that she withheld that info and now he and his ex have to fight about it. The bigger problem is he chooses to fight it. His lawyer will say to him "its not a fight, no proof no pay" but then the kids are led to believe mom is so hard done by and dads an ass. Again though, he didn't create this situation. He gave them tools and they chose to disregard them. He said he wants to write kid an email expressing how he feels about this but because mom wants them to hate him and love her, she will just reinforce "dad is a jerk" rather than "if you had stayed organized we wouldn't be in this situation". He told me yesterday he was so surprised because his ex was such an organized parent who expected a set of behaviours. She may still be that way but not to him, she and the kids treat him disrespectfully because they feel he deserves it. But he doesn't have to take it.

It seems we're doing all the right things. We have been trying to get away, go outside, walk, do things we enjoy together and just disengage from it. When I know he is thinking about it I will take the opportunity to steer him to something fun or actually talk through things "how are you feeling, what do you think you should say/do, what do you think the reaction will be, how else can you approach it" etc. I know there isn't always a solution for things but sometimes he just wants things to be better or the way they were years ago. Unfortunately that may not happen so he has to live in this time with this situation.
So he's basically going against the advice he's been given and is having no success. Maybe you could see if he will make a deal with you to TRY following their advice for a set period of time and see if there is any improvement since he has tried everything else and it hasn't?
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Old 07-19-2016, 04:03 PM
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So he's basically going against the advice he's been given and is having no success. Maybe you could see if he will make a deal with you to TRY following their advice for a set period of time and see if there is any improvement since he has tried everything else and it hasn't?


We've done that. Then he misses them and starts trying and little by little they wear him down and screw him over again. He's starting to see it now. In the beginning it would drive me crazy because I wasn't emotionally invested. A friend told me I had to let him get there on his own. This summer he has taken a major step forward so my whole "why don't you try it this way and see what happens" has been more effective. Having his kid pull this after everything he has done this year has really opened his eyes. But again, his heart gets in the way.

Will be interesting to hear the lawyers take. He tends to use language that gets through to my partner.
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Old 07-19-2016, 05:04 PM
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Or you could gently suggest he stop being an askhole......

https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-7...08/askhole.jpg
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Old 07-19-2016, 06:07 PM
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Timely post rockscan as I've just started to encounter this situation. My kids are similar in age, and both go away for school during the year.

Things have been great up until a couple of weeks ago.... now for the first time ever I'm being given the silent treatment. She sends them over to my place to argue CS and s.7 issues, and last time the older one got into financial issues relating to SS... I told him, "forget it.. I'm not going there", and he said, "fine, if you won't listen to my concerns I'm not visiting anymore".

I hear her voice and "non-argument" arguments in all their statements. I guess she's amping up the pressure as they get ready to take off for another school year.

I used to beg them to be reasonable, to no avail. My response this time was, "sorry you won't be visiting anymore, but if you think that will help you, I respect your decision. I am always here for you, and am happy to talk anytime.."

Now the hard part... for the first time I've got to wait it out... could be a long time.

Don't know if this is right or wrong... but the status quo can't continue... It's so incredibly sad how she plants the kids directly in the middle of everything, then stands up in front of a judge and says their involvement is all my fault for my "lack of communication skills".... ugh, ugh.
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Old 07-19-2016, 08:04 PM
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Blink, askhole is my new favourite word. Theres been a lot of "why do you ask me if you dont want to hear the answer?".

SomeGuy, my partner and his oldest would fight horribly and I demanded he go for therapy. He started with the "I will not discuss my divorce, my relationship with your mother before and after the divorce or any other matters between others with you. I am setting boundaries, if you expect me to respect your boundaries you have to respect mine." And then whenever she tried again he continued this line. He slips and sometimes lets her treat him badly or they argue about stupid stuff but the last six months hes been really sticking to it. You will never have the relationship you once had or want as long as they have that influence but if they know you wont engage they will stop trying and attempt a healthy relationship. Its all about modeling behaviour. Put on a positive attitude but enforce healthy boundaries and they will mimic this eventually.
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Old 07-20-2016, 10:34 AM
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All previous advice was great but one other thing that you should consider is that even under the best circumstances, kids at this age are a total pain in the ass.

My husband and I have kids that have gone past the stage you're talking about and even if they were the most angelic kids before they hit this age...there's something about early adulthood that turns them into disrespectful, entitled, annoying little jerks.

My advice...he needs to be a dad, not a doormat...even though it will definitely give him some heartburn. He should disregard the ex and do what he'd do whether or not she was around...concentrating on investment in the long-term best needs for the kids...not what will ease the short-term discomfort.

It will be hard for him to believe but eventually his kids will change and they'll come back and be grateful for the life lessons he gave them. In time, they'll start showing their appreciation in words and they way they act towards him.

But if he waffles, the whole phase will just last a lot longer.

My current husband went through similar crap with his son and ex a few years back but he stuck to his guns and did what he thought was right. Now, his son is on the right track to becoming a fully responsible adult...instead of a whiny, entitled, annoying brat. And their relationship is really great.

Its really hard to be in the position you're in but you need to stick to your guns too and find the good in the kids as much as you can without giving in to nonsense.

Even the best kids go through this phase and it requires a steady hand from both of you to get through it. Sorry for the stress, I know its tough.
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Old 07-20-2016, 10:39 AM
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Oh I know its stressful. I have the extra perspective that I was an alienated kid. Granted my father was not even 1/8 of the man my partner is, I still wish I could go back and smack myself.

He ended up sending kid a message expressing his disappointment over the immaturity. I asked him if he really thought it was a good idea (before he sent it) in light of how he feels about not speaking to them. He said he didnt care, he was still a parent and he has a responsibility to be that parent regardless of the outcome. We'll see how it goes though. Kid will be all about how cruel he is and how mom doesnt treat them like that etc. Life will kick these kids on their ass eventually.
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