RSS Feed

The boyfriend-teen smackdown

Posted on Friday, April 16, 2010 in Advice, dating, Parenting, Relationships, single dads, single moms, teens/teenagers

We were near the end of a family-like dinner, The Kid, Sean and me, when Trent said something rude to me.

I let it slide  — Sean was our guest and was a bit embarrassed  — although inside I was pissed.

“Why are you letting him get away with that?” Sean asked me later, as I washed the dishes and he dried.

“Well, I know he’s really upset because he bombed his history test.”

“And what does that have to do with anything?”

“He’s not really upset at me.”     

“That doesn’t mean he should be rude, which he’s been a number of times. Stop excusing him! Do you want me to say something?”

“No, let it be.”

Sean sighed deeply and started drying a little more vigorously; I thought for sure he was going to take the glaze off my plates. Now, I had a rude kid, a pissed-off mom and a frustrated boyfriend on my hands.

Nice!

Sean was right; Trent has dissed me from time to time. I’ve tended to shrug it off as a teenage thing — I pick my battles carefully, opting for the biggies like drugs and booze. Still, I don’t like rudeness from anyone, and I certainly don’t want to indulge it in my own kid — but I wrestle with how much of that Sean should be part of.

How much parenting should a boyfriend do?

I asked the experts — my friends — and like most experts, they were all over the map.

“You’ve been seeing each other long enough. It’s absolutely his right to say something,” Sara said when she, Mia and I met for coffee the next morning.

“I don’t think so,” Mia said, shaking her head. “He’s not his stepdad and you guys aren’t married or even living together. You could split tomorrow, and Trent knows that. Sean doesn’t have full creds. If anything, you should tell Rob about the rudeness so he could say something. You may be divorced, but you’re still the mom and he’s still the dad.”

Both of them made sense, especially since my discipline techniques wouldn’t be anything I’d put on a resume; sometime they work, sometimes not. Like a lot of moms — especially single or divorced moms — I tend to feel guilty. I just wimp out.

But in what way should my partner step into the fray, if he should at all?

It’s not like we’re talking about “go to your room” or “washing your mouth out with soap” disciplining. And Trent’s hardly a baby or a little kid who’ll work the angles, like Single Mom Seeking blogged about. He’s as tall as Sean and he shaves as often (sometimes more, because it’s still new and exciting).

Honestly, though, it would be so nice to have the support of another adult saying, “Don’t talk that way to your mother!” That’s one thing married couples have that single parents don’t. Still, there’s a part of me that thinks divorced or not, parents need to be a united front so the kids know where the boundaries are and, guess what? — the front exists at mom’s house and dad’s house.

  • Who disciplines better, you or your spouse/ex-spouse?
  • What role should a boyfriend/girlfriend have, if any?
  • Are men better at disciplining than women?

Other single parenting dilemmas:

Dating, unplugged

Help! I saw my dad’s girlfriend naked!

photo © j0yce – Fotolia.com

Bring on the comments

  1. jim
    Twitter: mobilene
    says:

    I think Sean “stepped into the fray” just right — directly with you, and not with your son. Sean doesn’t have to like everything about your parenting but I don’t see how you guys can have an authentic relationship unless you can talk about it.
    .-= jim´s last blog ..Captured: Chevrolet =-.

  2. Steve says:

    I agree with Mia. Sean isn’t his father, Trent knows it and part of being a teenage boy is testing boundaries and looking for fight. Being approached by Sean would just make Trent’s attitude worse.

    If you tolerate disrespect in small matters Trent is not going to respect you in the large matters.

    Aside from that leading him into trouble, you also DESERVE his respect simply for being another human and especially for being his mother ( insert spiel about carrying him under your breast for 9 months, the pain of child birth, cleaning up his dirty diapers etc ).

    Children respect their parents because of fear. Teenagers, who are transitioning into adults have to transition into respecting their parents out of a value system.

    The person most likely to reach a teenage boy in that regard would be someone like a karate teacher, coach or a man who is in some way a mentor to him.

    If he doesn’t have one, he should get one. A mentor will make a positive difference in many things and those differences will last a life time. I know this for a fact because I had one.

    His father is a good second choice in the meantime. Make sure you and his father talk to him together. Otherwise he might see you as weak ( running to his father to tattle tale, etc ) and lose more respect for you as a parent/authority figure.

  3. mvgrl says:

    Wow, good post.!
    I am the disciplined one for my kids..good manners , and follow the ” Golden Rule” It works.
    My ex and I are a unified front when it comes to teen problems, we call each other to figure out a solution.
    My mom’s BF’s tried to discipline me, and I hated it, she always stepped in and took my side.
    I don’t think boyfriends should tell your kids how to act/behave,
    and yes, I have the Divorce Guilt complex, and will give in occasionally or compromise( mostly when my daughter wants to take my car) haha! as W.C. Fields said.”There’s a Sucker born every day”

  4. dadshouse
    Twitter: dadshouseblog
    says:

    The boyfriend telling your son that your son is being rude is totally fine, if done respectfully. That’s not discipline, it’s just pointing out good manners. Where I draw the line is this: the boyfriend shouldn’t dole out punishment. That’s your domain. And your boyfriend is right, you shouldn’t allow your kid to be rude to you, ever. It’s not a battle to choose or not choose. Lay down the law. Tell him what’s acceptable. Then pick battles after that.
    .-= dadshouse´s last blog ..Laundry Mishap =-.

  5. mvgrl says:

    Wow! this post is bringing up alot of memories.
    When I was a teen, my mom’s boyfriends would say something mean/nasty to me about my behavior , and not in a constructive way, my mom always took my side.
    Now, with 2 teens, my last boyfriend would step aside, and not say a word to my kids when they were misbehaving.
    My ex and I are a unified front when it comes to discipline.We call each other and discuss what to do.
    My kids know that when they walk through my front door they know the rules..manners, and respect, and the “Golden Rule”

  6. Linda says:

    My ex-husband traveled a lot, so the discipline was up to me, and still is. As I start to navigate the teenage girl waters I have had to remind my daughter that her attitude sucks. I know she has hormones and stresses, but that in no way allows her to treat me or anyone else rudely.

    I’m with Mia and Dadshouse on this one.

  7. Edgar says:

    Based on the experience that I have had with being around and helping to raise the kids of significant others, the role I would advise Sean to take is one of support of you in a circumstance like you describe, but not direct confrontation with the Kid. If Trent were to be rude to Sean, he could address that directly. But you are responsible for addressing Trent’s behavior toward you (and I agree with the others that you should do so diligently), and Sean should only back you up. I would say that would be true even if he were Trent’s dad.

  8. Kat Wilder says:

    #whenursingle Boyfriend discipline my kid? I don't think so! http://tinyurl.com/y2jxtfd

  9. Loriann says:

    Kat,
    I must say that I have no idea about raising a son; I have raised a daughter. I also understand about choosing battles. I just want to chime in and write that although you understand that Trent was upset about something else, and you didn’t take his sassing personally (which is great for you!)you do him a disservice by not calling him on his disrespect of you. There will be times in his life when he is frustrated and it’s not okay to verbally lash out. Having written this, I understand that our teens know that we love them unconditionally and they like to test. Maybe too, there is a part of him that doesn’t want to share his mom? Just some thoughts.

  10. Kat Wilder says:

    Jim — Yeah, you said it perfectly. We don’t have to agree, we just have to be able to talk about it. Although I suppose it could become a big issue, maybe.

    Steve — I love the idea of mentors — everyone needs one (even me!) The more adults who care for and guide our kids, the better.

    MVgrl — Those messages from years ago stick with us. Good for your mom for protecting you, although I wonder how that worked out in her relationship …

    Linda — we can only be a doormat if we allow people to wipe their feet on us. My new mantra — I will not be wimpy, I will not be wimpy …

    Edgar — BF as the backup/support is a good plan. Funny how most parents don’t support each other. I’d guess clashing parenting styles add to a lot of marital stress. And, once you’re divorced, each parent kinda wants to be the “nice” one …

    Loriann — those are good thoughts, and thanks for sharing. I know it’s a mom and dad’s role to get our kids ready for the real world, which won’t necessarily think he’s the wonderful person his parents say he is. At the same time, home is the safe place to let our guard down, and emote .. and know we’ll still be loved. But, yeah, I mustn’t be so wimpy (see above for new mantra!) ;-)

  11. Michelle
    Twitter: None
    says:

    Kat,
    I must say that I have no idea about raising a son; I have raised a daughter. I also understand about choosing battles. I just want to chime in and write that although you understand that Trent was upset about something else, and you didn’t take his sassing personally (which is great for you!)you do him a disservice by not calling him on his disrespect of you. There will be times in his life when he is frustrated and it’s not okay to verbally lash out. Having written this, I understand that our teens know that we love them unconditionally and they like to test. Maybe too, there is a part of him that doesn’t want to share his mom? Just some thoughts.

  12. Crissi
    Twitter: Santarosamom
    says:

    Oh, how I can relate. My son has become pretty snarky with me. And while I call him on it, I admit that I don’t catch it every time. When your kids are rude to you, sometimes it’s easy to overlook it, especially when there are bigger battles to face. My BF and I have an agreement that we don’t parent each other’s kids. However, I’m not adverse to him saying “don’t speak to your mother that way”, especially if I’ve overlooked it. But more often than not, he’ll talk to me about anything amiss, and vice versa. I think Sean handled it perfectly. It’s whatever is comfortable for you regarding your own child.
    .-= Crissi´s last blog ..The Excuse Maker vs the Howler Monkey =-.

  13. Kat Wilder says:

    Michelle — as a teenager I know there are many parts of him he doesn’t want to share with his mom! That comes with the territory! It’s a fine line of having kids vent and dissing, sons or daughters. Either gender, they do tend to be harder on us moms, right?

    Crissi — sounds like you and your BF have a pretty good agreement. I’m rethinking the “rudeness” not being a “big” thing to battle. Rudeness isn’t a good life trait, don’t you agree?

  14. If you're a dating single mom, read this post by @KatWilder re: do you let him discipline your kid? http://tinyurl.com/y2jxtfd

  15. Deesha P says:

    Absolutely not! (past tense) RT @singlemomseekin: If u're a dating single mom, do u let him discipline yr kid? http://tinyurl.com/y2jxtfd

  16. Absolutely not! (past tense) RT @singlemomseekin: If u're a dating single mom, do u let him discipline yr kid? http://tinyurl.com/y2jxtfd

  17. Absolutely not! (past tense) RT @singlemomseekin: If u're a dating single mom, do u let him discipline yr kid? http://tinyurl.com/y2jxtfd

  18. Crissi
    Twitter: Santarosamom
    says:

    I couldn’t agree more. Words and how you say them are a person’s first impression of you. I definitely don’t want my kids to talk rudely to me, or any adult for that matter. When I say it’s easy to overlook, it’s mainly because it takes me a few to actually notice it. But I’ve also found that the way they speak to me could be mirroring the way I’ve been speaking to them. So I’m watching my tone as well.
    .-= Crissi´s last blog ..“Mom? Mom? MOM???” =-.

  19. The boyfriend-teen smackdown http://bit.ly/blNCBf #YogaDigg #Yoganomics