Boy acts out

Honoring House Rules

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What Should I Do if My Son Won’t Honor House Rules?

Dear Susan,

Now that my teenaged son is older, he would rather spend time with his dad than with me. I have no problem with that, other than when he comes home from his dad’s house, he has no problem referring to me as a “bitch,” nor does he want to follow the rules of my home.

If he breaks a house rule and I reprimand him for it, he calls his dad, who tells him that he doesn’t have to listen to me.
Is this parental alienation?


Hi Linda,

What your ex husband is doing is one of the most difficult situations that one can encounter when co-parenting. Different rules in different households is challenging enough but when one parent undermines the discipline in the other parent’s household, the results are disastrous.  My suggestion for all parents is to teach the children to respect the rules in the other parent’s household.  You may not like the rules the other parent has but, as long as the rules are not abusive to the children, they are the rules of your ex-spouse’s home and need to be respected.

Linda, your situation goes beyond having different rules and your ex-husband is willing to harm his son emotionally, to upset you.  This is abusive to your son because it teaches him to disregard rules (not just yours) and to disrespect women in general.

You have a big job ahead of you.  I say this because I encountered the same thing with my ex.  Since your son has known you for a long time, he knows you are not a bitch.  Boys love their mothers and will defend them at all corners.  However, your son’s need to have a dad is crucial to him so  your son is torn in both directions.

My advice is to stay firm in your house rules. If your son breaks them, there are consequences such as loss of weekend privileges or video game use, etc.  There will be bumps in the road, but they will be short lived.  Always show your son love and consistency.  As he matures, he will see the writing on the wall and come to your defense when you ex says uncomplimentary things about you.

Remember — Boys love their moms.

In your situation, the father is clearly setting his son up to have challenging relationships with women because he is teaching him to disrespect them.

This is a tricky situation because your son looks up to your ex-husband and wants to emulate him.
Susan Shofer Divorce Consultant

Stay Firm in Your House Rules

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