second husband hates my kids

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Q: From the U.S.: My husband and I have been together for 9 yrs, married 5 of those years. When we first got together my boys were 7 and 5yrs old and they got along. A year later we moved in together and my boys could nothing right in his eyes. It wasn’t THAT bad so I told myself it would take time.Every year got worse and not better! I still tell myself it getbetter someday but I think now it will only get worse.

My boys are 16 and 14 now and my husband only speaks to them to yell at them, call them names, and belittle them. I always come to their defense. Its little that set him off, like if their hat is backwards or cocked to the side he’ll call them thugs. Their hair is a little shaggy and their drug addicts. My husband has been this way for years and boys are used to it and try to not to set him off which makes me sad. I’ve had serious talks with my boys about his hurt words and told them I will always protect them. When I mentioned leaving him to my boys they tell me they don’t want me to because they know I love him and I do but if it comes to a choice between the 2, I will always pick my kids. My boys have had a bad year at school with grades and I’ve grounded them and tried different punishments but its never harsh enough to my husband. My husband and I only fight about my boys their grades, punishments, and priveledges. My husband says I NEVER follow through with my boys punishments. My arguement is he has no interest in my boys until its time to punish them and then he thinks his punishment is the right which would is absolutely no privledges for the boys. He literally does not speak to my boys on a daily basis unless it something negative. He says they deserve no repect because their thugs. I say my husband has no business or right to get to decide in my boys punishment because he has no interest in them. Am I right?

My boys are at my house 4 days one week and then 3 the next. My ex-husband and I have joint custody. Its got so bad I have to make sure my boys are here on days that my husband works or I make sure I’m home with them at all times if my husbands here. So I’m happy when I’m with my husband and my boys are at their dads but I’m miserable the rest of the time always walking on egg shells!! What can I do? My boys will be out on their own within 5 yrs. I’m scared my boys won’t come to see me after that or my husband will tell to leave. My boys are very protective over me and love me more than anything but I’ll die if I lose them in the future because they don’t want to come over because my husband is there. My husband and I fight over my boys weekly when their here and I really don’t know what to do anymore. It hurts me when he belittles my kids but with my husband it his way or no way. Tell what I can do to make it better with all of us. I want all my men in my life and I love them all.

A: One possible explanation for your husband’s behavior is that he has never accepted the fact that you had a life before him. He may see your boys’ existence as a constant reminder that you were once with someone else. He hasn’t embraced his position as an important role model for your kids or as a partner in parenting with you. Instead, he seems to want only to control the kids and make them miserable. The result is that your boys are living in a terrorist environment where they suffer daily psychological abuse. It’s a wonder the kids haven’t turned into the “thugs” he imagines them to be. I certainly hope that the boys’ father offers them a counter-model of manhood and gives them the love and respect they deserve.

I’m sure there are people who disagree with me but I do believe that a mother’s first loyalty belongs with her children. Your kids deserve your protection as well as your love. I think you owe it to the boys to get them out of this situation. If it’s an option, you could agree to let them live with their father full time while they finish high school and arrange to visit them in public places or while on vacations. If that’s not possible, you have some difficult decisions to make. To save your kids, you may have to leave the man. Your love for your husband may be clouding your own good judgment. Trust your instincts. Your fears about the future are probably correct. Why would your boys ever want to subject themselves to more of this? Why would you want them to?

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 3 Jun 2008

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2008). second husband hates my kids. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 26, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2008/06/03/second-husband-hates-my-kids/