By Dr. Jeannette Lofas with Dr. Karen Hensel
In stepfamilies there is an ongoing phenomenon occurring with the divorced father. It is the father’s seeming inability to discipline his children.
In fact it is interpreted that many divorced fathers cease to father. This lack of discipline and/or disagreements regarding behaviors grows into a major cause of stepfamily divorce.
Divorced Dads transform into Disneyland Dads, unable to see the issues and problems generated by their children, and his own responses to them.
The behaviors are classic for millions of divorced dads when their kids visit his house. The father has no negative intent. He is simply unaware of his reactions, or lack thereof. They are driven by guilt and an unconscious “not seeing.”
What is this “not seeing?” It is literally and figuratively “turning a blind eye” to his children’s negative behaviors.
WHY the reasons would fill a book. How does his wife, the stepmother cope? With pain and passion. “Where has my champion GONE?” When it becomes too much…don’t leave get help. This is what we do, And what follows are some surface reasons how come.
- I have so little time with them
- Why should I spend time disciplining
- My partner only sees the bad things
- My partner wants things her way
- Sometimes they are rude to her
- They have a right to express their feelings
- Frequently they cancel and I don’t see them
- I don’t know if they’ll come back next time
- I am so afraid I will lose them
- I know men whose children do not see them
- The children feel their mother is right and I am wrong
- Their mother badmouths me
- The kids want me to get rid of my new partner
- The kids resent my new partner
- I am careful not to badmouth the children’s mother
- The kids really want the old the family together again
HERS (Stepmother/partner complaints):
- He doesn’t see what they’re doing
- He zones out
- He’s just not there
- He’s unconscious of what they do or don’t do
- The kids run the house
- They ignore me
- They treat me like I don’t exist
- They take my things
- There is no discipline, there are no rules with his kids
- He just buys and buys and does whatever they want
- He never tells them, NO
- He defends their bad behavior, and then gets angry with me for pointing it out.
- He waits on them. He’s their maid & butler
- We eat at whatever restaurant THEY wish
- They eat whatever they wish.
- The conversation is all about them
- He teaches them nothing
- They don’t lift a finger
- Their mother badmouths him
- He says nothing to the kids
- I am made wrong for noticing, and we fight
- He takes their side, and ignores mine
- He refuses get any help on this problem