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education.com asks:
Q:

How to stop my fiance from bullying my son? He constantly picks at my son about how he eats, plays sports, & utilizes his time when he is home.

"He calls my son fat, tells him he needs to run a mile everyday. My son is 11 & it is really starting to bother him to the point where I see his self esteem is being affected. Somedays it will start when he is getting ready for school. My fiance will yell at him for eating breakfast or getting dressed too slow. He says it is discipline. My son has never missed the bus ever so it is not like he is that slow that he is making either of us late for work. In the mornings he is always ready before he needs to leave for the bus stop & has time to watch a few mins of tv. I seem to be referee & tell my fiance that he is taking it too far. He will yell at my son to the point my son is going to school crying. How do I get my fiance to know that his discipline is bullying? My son comes home from school with his report card with straight As & my fiance doesn't tell him great job instead he will make a comment like well that is the way it is supposed to be you shouldn't get anything less than that...i need help on addressing the issue to my fiance because anytime i try he tells me not to interfere he is just teaching my son to be a man. I want my son to be & grow up happy. I have also told my son that he comes first no matter what and that he can come to me about anything. I am in the middle & not sure if this can be fixed or if I should leave him. If anyone has any advice I would love to hear it."

Asked by "Sarah" via email.
In Topics: Bullying and teasing, Discipline and behavior challenges, Blended families
> 60 days ago

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Expert

Boys Town National Hotline
Jul 23, 2009
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What the Expert Says:

It sounds like your fiance is being extremely tough on your son.  It's easy to see how you would feel like you are truly stuck in the middle.  You have to trust your parental instincts in this case.  It sounds as if your fiance has gone beyond bullying, and is actually verbally abusing your son when he calls him fat.  It sounds like you feel that many of the things your fiance says are unfounded since your son seems to follow the rules most of the time.  Since you mentioned that your son's self esteem is being affected and your fiance's words are causing him to cry, it's time to put an end to the abuse.  

Has anyone else noticed the way your fiance treats your son, or does he only say hurtful things when he's alone with your son?  If that's the case, its a good sign that your fiance knows that what he is doing is wrong.  

As a parent it's your job to protect your son, so it's time that you sit down with your fiance and set some ground rules.  Explain to him that what he is doing is hurting, not helping your son.  There is a big difference between discipline and bullying.  What your fiance is doing is not discipline, if your son is not learning anything positive.  Explain how your son feels when he says those things to him and try to explain that the emotional damage he's doing now can easily follow your son for many years.  Tell your fiance the exact behaviors he's doing that will no longer be accepted in your home.  Explain to him that if he's not willing to follow those rules he will not be allowed in your home.  Your son deserves to grow up in an encouraging and positive environment.  Not one in which he is constantly being belittled.  

It may also be a good idea to take a parenting class with your fiance so you can both learn together appropriate ways of discipling an 11 yr. old.  Our national database has many referrals for parenting classes. If you would like a referral for your local area, please feel free to call us anytime.  We look forward to hearing from you.  Good Luck!

Boys Town National Hotline
1-800-448-3000



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Additional Answers (74)

Meljus
Meljus writes:
Not acceptable. Your fiance is telling you taht you are interferring, he is interfering. You are the parent and it is your job to discipline not his. He may give opinions or make small rules becasue it is his house as well but this is your child. You need to sit down with him immediately and let him know what the deal is. If the situation won't change, I hate to say it but then he needs to hit the road. Your son comes first!
My husband is not my son's father. He does light disciplining but I have final say and authority. If my son was unhappy or being bullied by my husband, he would not be my husband.
> 60 days ago

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Loddie1
Loddie1 , Parent writes:
It is time to realize that these are WARNING signs of abuse. It mya not be a very big issue right now, but eventually it could turn into physical abuse. I would lay the law down NOW! Tell your fiance that you will not have him put your child down. That you feel it is not funny and you take it very seriously. If he continues, I would consider calling off your engagement.
> 60 days ago

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stebbinsd
stebbinsd writes:
Question:

Why haven't you broken up?

My father was a lot like this, and to be perfectly honest, he didn't do a very good job.  It's been proven that you can get better results out of someone by rewarding them for good behavior rather than punishing them for bad behavior.  Any accredited Human Relations class will tell you that in your first week.

Give your fiance an ultimatum:  "Either your attitude goes, or you go with it."
> 60 days ago

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ruup4nik
ruup4nik writes:
I am in a less severe situation with my fiance' and 8-year-old son and it has my seriously reconsidering the marriage. If I were in your situation I would run away and never look back. Your child is in danger.
> 60 days ago

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BDaly
BDaly writes:
Hi Sarah;  I can almost relate to some of the things you are worried about.  My only suggestion to you is and you have to say it from your heart and mean it.....you need to face your fiance and tell him that he is YOUR son and you will take care of what you feel needs to be addressed.  Its will be difficult especially if you love that man, but if that man loves you then he will respect you and your son.  Continue telling your son he is number one at all times.  Stand up for your son, he needs you and counts on you to be there to protect him and help pick him up when he's been "kicked" down.  Please do not let that man convince you he is only doing that to teach your son to be a man...that is only teaching your son on how to be a bully and thats not what you want.  I wish you luck Sarah and i hope that it all works out.  But you and I both know what bullying can lead up to, and we as MOTHERS have got to stop it from happening.  Take care and be there for your child!!
> 60 days ago

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mssofia
mssofia writes:
Dump him!  You can do better.  Step out of the box with your thinking and don't sell yourself short.  These things aren't easy, but I'm positive that since you are reaching out for help, your instinct is telling you something you might not want to hear.  I'm telling you to listen.  Listen to your instinct.  Get out.  Both you and your son deserve better and you already know it.
> 60 days ago

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SPEDHighSchoolTeacher
SPEDHighSch... , Student, Teacher, Parent writes:
Unfortunately, I have seen this one too many times and it does not end in a positive situation. Your fiance is jealous and he is trying to create his dominant place in the home. Your son will eventually confide in a teacher or someone at school, and eventually social services will be called and it could lead to an investigation and removal of your son from your home. I suggest leaving. It is not easy, but your son will respect you and himself more. Ask yourself these questions: Do you really want to raise two children? Do you require the drama in your life? Are you prepared to visit your son in jail, because his anger will come out somewhere else.
> 60 days ago

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grammie2
grammie2 writes:
PLEASE - PLEASE! No man or woman should be allowed to 'bully' your child...get out of that relationship.  Your child is worth more than any negative relationship!  Our children are our future, don't have that childhood marred, or allow him to be scarred psychologically for life.
> 60 days ago

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mum2009
mum2009 writes:
You don't say if your other half is your sons father but I am taking it he is not.
He is your son your partner has no right speaking to him or treating him that way.
I was bullied by my step father in the same way as I was growing up and my mother never stuck up for me and always stuck up for him. He thew me out when I was 16 after my mum was hopitalised due to a brain hemorriage. If it wasn't for my Grandparents I don't know what would have happened to me.
If my partner was doing that to my children then I would not be with him now, your child and his happiness is more important and you will find someone else who will treat him a lot better and respect him more.
> 60 days ago

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mumof3girls
mumof3girls writes:
I was in a similar situation for 11 years. Believe me when I say, "Get out now." He will promise to change but it may last only 1 week, 1 month at the most. Then after you marry him, the abuse will get worse. It will be harder for you to leave him especially if you have any children together. I wish I had taken the advice of a therapist I was seeing back then, break up with him. Have the strength to save your son, I wish I did.
> 60 days ago

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cassionmama
cassionmama writes:
Obviously if that man isnt treating your child right you need to leave him. You are not putting your child first if you let some stupid penis treat him that way. You are being very very very selfish if you let this continue. There are good men out there who will step up and love your son and if this man was worth it, he would do right by HIM. THis seems obvious to me, hard to do, but obvious.
> 60 days ago

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jenni01
jenni01 writes:
Sarah, I have felt this way at times too. I don't know, I am still looking for an answer myself. My son is 8 years old. I am married to my "bully" and we have a 6 month old son together as well. In my case, my husband's father is similar, so I truly believe he was raised this way. His dad seems to have had a bully-ish attitude as well. It didn't happen immediately, rather unraveled over comfort level and time. I too want to have a happy well-adjusted child, and am almost concerned the bully discipline will cause my son to grow up frightened of people and cause low self esteem. hmm. Good to know I'm not alone here....
> 60 days ago

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CpsNightmares
CpsNightmares writes:
Your fiance sounds like an ass. He sounds immature and unable to cope with your son. He is not teaching your son anything except to grow up to be abusive. If your son is overweight, then something to do would be to exercise in a fun way WITH him. Telling him he is fat and what he should do is not helping. There is a difference between abuse and discipline. It's not funny what this jerk is doing and I wish I could get ahold of him by the balls right now. He wouldn't enjoy it. If YOU ALLOW this man to emotionally demolish your son this way, unfortunately you could be guilty of child abuse...as I have found out myself in dealing with my own situation. I'm not trying to berate you, I'm sure the situation is hard for you, but love your son first. He needs his mom to be there for him. Ditch the jerk that can't act like a real man. He needs parenting skills and a heart. Doesn't sound like he has either of them. Leave him and start working on your relationship with your son. Trust me, if you choose the fiance over your son...you will regret it.
> 60 days ago

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DLNJRONE
DLNJRONE writes:
I am a man an this sounds very bad.I have kids and Ive dated women with kids.I have only this to say.You needed to look for a man to help you bring up your boy to become a strong upstanding man.Don't look for another little boy to bring up to man hood on your on.Times are to hard for that!
> 60 days ago

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mklmsw
mklmsw , School Administrator, Caregiver, Parent writes:
I recommend having a very long engagement!  Your son's emotional health and overall well-being must come first.  Due to the importance of the issue, I recommend both of you get some counseling about this.  And, depending upon your husband's point of view of counseling, he may lay more credence on the advise of a male counselor, but, not necessarily.  It is possible that this is a trait your husband will not be able to change, and possibly has a lot to do with how he was parented.  If he treats your son like this, I wonder if he is also overly critical of you.  My advise is, take your time.  Do not rush into marriage with this man.  I would google step family support and you'll find many resources there as well, including a site where parents can vent/seek advise from other parents in step families. http://www.steptalk.org/ Check out the forum, there are specific topics in there that may be helpful. But finding a counselor quickly would be my highest priority if I were you.  Good luck!

- MKL,
an elementary school social worker in IL

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cowgirls
cowgirls writes:
well i was at the end of my rope and decided that it was his dad's turn but mind you only cause i know (well from what i hear) is his step mom is really into kids. so i sent him to stay at his dad's for the school year and see how he deals with it. he's a fair man when it comes to punishment to him.i'm hoping my son will wake up cause there is a point in a boys life they need a dad.a big brother or uncle or grandpa. but this just started not saying it's the answer but maybe a sugestion. good luck
> 60 days ago

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EdieRaether
EdieRaether , Teacher writes:
Oh dear.  This must stop immediately.  Your responsibility is to your son, not your fiance.  You must take a firm stand or you will lose your son.
He may resent you for not protecting him in later years and you may no longer see him bringing home A's.
Do not let this continue.  The messages your fiance is giving him is programing his mind and shaping his self esteem which guides his life. Please, this is very serious.   Your fiance needs to seek help.  He may be competing with your son.  This is not a healthy enviroment.  
Sorry to come on so firm but it is very serious and must stop.
Hope this helps.
Edie

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ruby716
ruby716 writes:
I couldn't read past the first paragraph without becoming angry. I am a single mother as well, and seeing someone, and there is no way I would allow him, or anyone else for that matter, to abuse my son in such a way. Verbal abuse and emotional abuse leaves scars on children that you may not see, but that is felt deeply. This isn't just "bullying", this child is being abused. I think your fiance needs therapy to address his abusive nature,  and sadly, your son now will probably need it as well, to help him get over this. I pray this boy is safe and happy. From one mother to another, there isn't anything more important than that. Good Luck.
> 60 days ago

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dshaner53
dshaner53 writes:
I really don't see your fiance from changing, sadly.  Your son is your son forever.  Maybe your fiance isn't the right one for you.
> 60 days ago

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gringasjt
gringasjt writes:
Wow, this certainly is a difficult dilemna. The reason being, you want the best for your son, he should be your highest priority and second, you are engaged to a man that has some real control issues. Have you asked yourself if these contol issues will carry over in to your relationship eventually if they already haven't? You really need to sit down with your fiancee and lay out some boundries. He needs to stop bullying your child. If he doesn't respect your boundries I would show him out the door.
> 60 days ago

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