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Give Advice: My Boyfriend Won't Discipline His Kids

Published on February 1, 2011 by laurap

My boyfriend and I live together in a house I bought. We have lived together over 2 years. He has two daughters that stay with us every other weekend. He does not discipline them and let them run around, jump around, scream, fight...etc. We have had a number of arguments about this and he always goes back to the same thing...I only have them for a limited time and want them to have fun. I have reached my boiling point and dont know what to do.


He definitely needs to discipline the children in that case. If the kids are gonna run around wild they will continue to do it and they will probably walk all over both of people as they are older and have little respect. It doesn't matter if the parents gets their child for a couple days or a couple hours; they still need discipline.

LAURAP, I think that in this type of situation, you really only have 2 choices. One is to accept the way your boyfriend parents his children. That doesn't mean you like it. It doesn't even mean that you cannot offer suggestions. But it does mean you should have NO expectation that he will change it! The other option is to leave.

Unfortunately, there is no real option for you to get him to parent differently. If and when he WANTS to parent differently, he can certainly change. But he has to want it to be different and it sounds like currently he is happy with the situation.

When a woman puts herself between a man and his children, the woman usually loses (the same is true when a man puts himself between a woman and her children).

The kids are going to be in his life FOREVER (not just until 18), so if you cannot accept the way they act in your home, you are probably not going to be able to share a home with him. Perhaps you could experiment with not being around those weekends and making other plans?

Best to you,

Ellen Hartson, LISW, Relationship Coach

I think that establishing basic house rules, and seeing if your boyfriend can agree. Keep the rules simple, no fighting, no jumping on the furniture. It is your home, and you need peace. There needs to be mutual respect from everyone. Perhaps if you approach the situation differently with your partner he may be more agreeable. The kids can have fun, plan an activity outside the home every weekend. Perhaps the children need more structured activities and are acting out cause there is no boundaries or organized activities.

Children that have no boundaries, rules, or structure are not having fun. They are running wild, like kids on a sugar high. The ex-wife is probably complaining, too, that when the kids come back to her, she has to retrain them and re-establish the rules for proper behavior in a house. He's not doing them any favors, either, by letting them tear up other peoples' homes. His "feral" children will not be welcomed in their friends' homes, if they aren't taught respect for others, and really, respect for themselves. You're in a tough spot. The second wife. And you aren't even married to this guy, so, you're further down the chain-of-command than you think! If you can't speak reason or sense to him, you're out of luck! Getting between a man and his children from the first marriage is usually the end of the relationship. Thankfully, you own the house. Some women can get the guy to disown the first family all together when the THEIR first child comes along. You are trying to be reasonable for him, yet, he chooses not to be. Start planning cool events on the weekends that are away from home. If he won't compromise this way, it may not be worth pursuing this relationship.

You need to get him to face the fact that he can never be his kids "buddy," as they have friends their own age and expect him to be their dad. And they know that Dad's job is to enforce discipline. He is setting his kids up for failure in life if he fails to enact boundaries and standards and then expect them to life up to them. [Or down: people actually tend to live down to your expectations...]

I work in a college environment, and am constantly remarking to me colleagues about this or that "poor kid: his parents didn't love him enough to beat him when he did wrong as a child, & now look at the hooligan!" This is only 1/2 a joke: the sad reality is that it is inescapably true.

Let your bf know that if he won't man up & be a proper Dad, then you see that there is no future possible with him and that he needs to move out.