Friends, dopers & parents - lend me your advice.

For the second time QS-girl (9) and QS-boy (6) have complained to me about their mother’s live in boyfriend laying his hands on them. Well, mostly on my son.

There are no bruises or marks and it doesn’t seem a daily occurance. But it does happen from time to time along with him raising his voice at them for reasons that seem completely absurd. i.e. milk splashed on the floor because the top wasn’t properly sealed, ketchup not put away after dinner, running & chasing one another while playing, and things like that.

Now my kids are not angelic but they are really good kids and do exceptionally well in school and have lots of friends and extended family who loves them. To say nothing of how much I adore them as does their mother.

So when I was asking them what they had for dinner last night (at their mom’s) so I didn’t make them the same dinner, QS-boy told me he got into trouble for spilling the milk. He got yelled at by dick. Now I wasn’t pleased but I could understand an adult losing patience with kids that are not even his. But then QS-girl said it happens often and that he sometimes graps QS-boy and squeezes him by the arm.

At this point I’m seeing red and doing my best to remain calm and ask for more details.

I then leave the room and from behind a closed door call their mother and ask what the hell is going on. She swears up and down that she doesn’t know anything about it and that they must be exagerating or lying.

My kids, like most kids, will sometimes tell a lie about how many cookies they had or if they’ve read for x minutes, like they should, etc… But they are not habitual liars and this is not the first time they dropped this bomb on me. The last time was about a year ago. Same sort of detail and level of aggression from dick.

Last time I did nothing except talk sternly to their mother. Because I hadn’t heard anything more about it, I thought it was dealt with (though she denied it last time as well).

So why again? Why now? Can I afford to not escalate this to dick’s attention (I can corner him at will without the kids there). What if the kids are not exactly telling the truth? And if so, in service of what? I see them every other day and the time we spend is never short changed or straigned. We always have fun together. So if they are “exagerating” then why? And if they are not and their mother is lying, how can I find out what’s really going on?

What do I do?

You need to make perfectly clear to your ex-wife that if there is one more occurrence that the children tell you about, you’ll go to the authorities and seek custody if need be. They’re your children, for heaven’s sake!

I wouldn’t threaten anything to do w/ custody, it makes it sound like you’re setting her
up. I think I’d arrange a meeting w/ mom and the BF, bring a trusted friend as a
witness, and discuss what the kids have been telling you.
CALMLY and matter of factly point out that if it continues you’re going to ask the
local child protection agency investigate. DO NOT get angry or you’ve only made
things worse.
If it’s not possible to meet w/ BF, then tell your ex that the next step is CPS.
Negotiation is almost always the best beginning.

How far away is their mother’s house from yours? How about you tell the kids that the next time it happens, that they should go IMMEDIATELY to the telephone and call you. Then, no matter where you are or what you’re doing, drop everything and go RIGHT over there. If there’s nothing really going on and the kids are crying wolf, you’ll know about it because of the atmosphere. If, however, they’re telling the truth, not only will the atmosphere in the house tell a story, but welts or red marks will still be visible as evidence. But you need to be able to confront each and every alleged incident WHEN it happens (IF it’s happening).

And keep a diary if you find genuine evidence.

Good luck – I hope it all works out for your childrens’ sake.

I must be getting smarter by virtue of spending time on here.

Everything mentioned is exactly what I’ve resolved to do.

The kinds know and understand that they are to call me immediately if something like this happens again. I live only a mile from them and can be there in a heartbeat. The cop shop is just a mile away in the other direction and I will pass by and ask a police officer to follow me to witness and take a statement then and there.

I can have a meeting with both or each of them any time I like. Not because we’re friends but because they know me to be reasonable and not somebody that will over-react and try to rip dick’s head off. Though it’s a temptation stronger than I can relay.

So yeah… I’m glad I seem to be on the right track.

Anyway, tomorrow, when I see him at the gym, I shouldn’t beat him into a coma… right? :mad:

Oh, and I’ve made my plan of action and intentions clear to their mother. If that doesn’t make her take this more seriously, then I guess the police on her doorstep will.

I do fear that the kids are exagerating this a tad to show their distate for the situation they are in because of their mother’s choices. But I want to make sure they know I believe them and that I’m there for them. The don’t need another adult in their life who dismisses their concerns.

You know what else I wonder… I wonder why they don’t go to her with this. She was on the phone almost in tears wondering why they don’t go to her with this stuff.

Any ideas?


Without getting into too much detail, I was ignored a LOT as a kid. Even when it was important. I am grateful nothing serious ever did happen or it would have been ignored, too.

I’m so glad they are being listened to. You are a good father.

You should ask them why they haven’t gone to their mom about this. Are they afraid she will defend boyfriend over them? If he is yelling at them, why doesn’t Mom hear it?

Hope this can be resolved peacefully.

QS - My wild guess about why they don’t go to her with this? Judging by her previous response to you about a prior incident and this one, they’ve possibly learned that mommy believes her boyfriend over her own children.

Well, of course, if it’s a lie, the reason they don’t go to her is obvious – they’re playing you for a desired result. But if it is true, they likely don’t go to her with this because they feel as if, by mere virtue of the fact that he’s there at her invitation, that that must mean that it’s OK with her. Or, it’s possible that there are other, smaller things that they’ve gone to her about regarding him where she’s taken his word over theirs, so naturally they wouldn’t trust her with the bigger things, either. Or, even the opposite – she knows they don’t like him, or don’t like him being there in the first place, but she has put her own feelings above theirs on that bigger issue, so why trust her to go to her with the smaller issues, like specific incidents or occurrences? They think she doesn’t care.

I’m sitting here trying to devine what that desired result might be. I have the same expectations of them as I did when we were all living together. They have responsibilities and obligations which I expect them to fulfill if they want to watch TV or play computer games or go out to a movie… etc… So the don’t excape their chores at my place. So if their mom is more strict in some ways, I don’t know in what way that would be. Plus, we almost never disagree when it comes to how we feel the children should be raised. I don’t know what the reason is for them to want to make this up, except… perhaps it’s the simple fact that they don’t like having dick around…?
Everyone else… thanks for your kind words of support. It makes me feel a little more assured that I’m not over-reacting.

QuickSilver, you are not overreacting.

But I have one more piece of information for you to take or leave, assimilate or ignore, as you wish.

When I was a child, I was repeatedly raped by my stepbrother. My mother was horrified when she found out (years later) and asked me why I had never told her or anyone else.

“Because,” I explained, “You always said if anything bad happened I should call you right away and you’d come and bring me home. Remember, we even had a “safe-word” to use so you’d know I was in trouble even if I didn’t feel safe saying so.”

“Yes, so why didn’t you ever use it?” she asked

“Because I knew you’d come and take me away from my daddy. I didn’t want to leave him, I just wanted my brother to stop.”

Make sure the kids know that their mother is their mother, and if visits at her house don’t work out, you and she will work out another way for them to see her. Otherwise, they may decide to clam up and never tell you another thing that happens there.

Oy… thanks WhyNot. :frowning: Thanks for sharing and thanks for the heavy food for thought.

They actually live with their mother and I’m the Disney parent (as it were). Though I see them every other day and they sleep over every weekend.

They either want to undermine their mother’s relationship with this man, and since they know she won’t make him leave just because of how they feel, they may think you can make him leave if you think he’s a bad, bad man; or, seeing you as the “Disney dad,” and not approving of “their mother’s choices,” they want you to step up and demand that they live with you full-time, and what better way to get out of the house than to have dad ride to their rescue and make it happen.

All good points Shayna.

I make a conscious effort not to criticize their mother in any way in front of them. I try very hard not to show any kind of disapproval. They do complain to me on occassion that she makes them spend time with dick’s kids which they often don’t like to do. I simply tell them it’s something I have no influence over and that they just need to express these concerns to their mom. I’m trying to make them understand that I don’t have an inifite sphere of influence over their entire world.

/wag Because she brought the guy into this household, and they don’t want to get into more “trouble” by telling on him? /wag

Has she told them, explicitly, that they shouldn’t be subject to discipline, unnecessary physical contact, or verbal abuse by said individual? Or is he filling the implicit role of Daddy Of The Day (in their eyes) while they’re at their mother’s?

They could be lying–but if they were, you’d expect them to be in a fairly transparent, escalating pattern, rather than slipping out a couple of comments a year apart. They could be exaggerating, but it doesn’t sound like much of an exaggeration to me; if I were a kid, I’d tend to make the claim be a little more visceral.

I wouldn’t communicate directly with the bloke, and I certainly wouldn’t threaten him–that just makes you appear to be the aggressor. Let their mother know your stance on the issue, “This stops, immediately, or it has to escalate to legal consequences”, and follow through on subsequent incidents as you see fit via court and cop.

FWIW, here’s my childhood experience disclosure: neither parent gave much of a crap about how I was treated, and I received verbal, and on a few occasions, moderate physical abuse (grabbing, pushing, being yelled at and “thrown” out of my own house, and the like–nothing egregiously violent or sexual, although there were a couple of guys who my mother brought home who were pretty questionable). I learned to just keep quiet and take it, and count the years, weeks, days, and hours until I could bail. I ended up leaving home at 15 (and again at 16, and for the last time at 17) rather than fight back or complain to authorities.


Not to take this guys side or anything. But you do realize this guy’s got a right to discipline your children right? Now, HOW that discipline should be administered is completely up to you and your ex.

But I don’t think the stepfather should be railroaded just because they aren’t his kids.

Personally, I like the sugested meeting. If it were me, I’d do it with just you and him alone. “Man to Man” so to speak. I know that sounds corny and dated but I think two guys talking together have a better chance of connecting without the distraction of having your ex-wife around.

I didn’t have the problems your having but I went ahead and had an “el mono y el mono” discusion with my sons new stepfather. Turns out he’s a pretty nice guy.

I actually feel sorry for the poor bastard; him being married to my ex-wife in all. :smiley:

He’s not a stepfather; he’s a “live in boyfriend”. His “right” to discipline the children falls squarely within the natural parents’ expectations of discipline; from the reaction of both QuickSilver and his account of his ex-wife’s reaction to the story it certainly doesn’t sound like the “discipline” falls within the bounds of that expected by either parent. It’s clear the individual in question didn’t discuss his meteing out of punishment with the mother, nor would it have been acceptible to her if he had; and if the childrens’ account of the incident are anywhere close to reality, the act of “discipline” in question is borderline abuse and certainly uncalled for.

And regardless of how difficult or frustrating the relationship between the mother and her boyfriend might be, the children do not need to bear the brunt of that friction. Although we don’t know the veracity of the childrens’ story or the specific mitigations of the sitaution, I don’t think the boyfriend requires any precursory apologetics.

And QuickSilver, if I didn’t make it clear before, I admire both your restraint and your resolve at being a good–nay, great–father. It’s not an easy job, I’m sure, and it can be all the more challenging with an ex-spouse who seems to be a little flaky (though there are certainly far worse) but you seem to be making the best of the situation, and it sounds like your children have manifestly benefited from it. Keep it up.


Warning: this response is not completely relevant.

“Men” who harm children physically or emotionally–either by putting their hands on them or by leaving them and their dirt-poor underage mothers to fend for themselves in the world–are nothing more than children themselves. There’s one in particular (in the latter category) who I would REALLY like to get my hands on these days. I tell 'ya, he wouldn’t be cruising the high schools impregnating little girls anymore after I’m done with him. I…agh…errrrgh. You struck a nerve here. I could kill “men” like this without half a second thought, and then raise them back from the dead and kill them again. Messily. Painfully. Oh man, does my blood boil! Grrrr. So help me God one of the few things that will save the guy I mentioned earlier will be that the first time I meet him will probably be in court.

Yeah, speaking of which, if I were you I’d go with the family court thing. At the very least contact CPS or police and have them investigate the situation. If it’s true–and you know your kids better than I do, but I don’t see any reason for them to lie about this–I agree with GOTN that you ought to have it investigated and take full custody.

Of course, I also think you should take the dude out back and shoot him, but the law tends to disagree with me there. Eh. What can you do.

Kudos and thank you for being a good father in a world where so many people shirk their personal obligations.

Sorry, I have to pick some nits here. First off, you mean “mano a mano”. “Mano” is a feminine noun, and means “hand”, not “man”, so “el mano y el mano” is spelled correctly but grammatically incorrect. “Mano a mano”, or “hand to hand”, is the idiom you’re looking for and it has nothing to do with masculinity.

The desired result is that mom and dad get back together. Regardless of the degradation of your relationship with your wife, the kids are young enough to push that aside and want the cohesive unit back. It’s pretty normal.

I don’t think anything has transpired that would warrant a visit from CPS. This guy has a different style than you do. That doesn’t mean you can’t let him know that it’s unacceptable, and it doesn’t mean you can’t push for more custody. But in my opinion you should talk to your wife alone about it first.