Dear “Oh Carol:”
My former wife and I share custody of our two teenage daughters. I’ve met a wonderful woman (Alice) but things are getting difficult. My daughters treat Alice horribly. I’m afraid that if I punish them they’ll hate me – and if I don’t, that Alice will leave. What should I do?
AFL’s OH CAROL Answers……
Let’s be clear. There’s already too much ill-mannered behavior in the world. And you’re being held captive by a couple of adolescent tyrants. Enough already! It’s time to free yourself from the insufferable chains that are binding you.
Let me ask an important question. Did Alice play a significant role in your divorce? Even if she did, that’s no excuse for bad behavior on the part of your daughters. But if this is true, it may shed some light on why your daughters are regarding Alice as an enemy “ a significant one who upset their status quo. But if it’s not true, then your daughters are simply insufferable and ill-mannered.
In either case, action needs to be taken. In the best case scenario, you need to enlist support from your former wife. Both of you as parents should sit the daughters down and explain to them that even though you are divorced, you are jointly committed to raising them to be tolerant and respectful adults. Ideally, both you and your former wife will tell the girls that their reign of terror has ended and that they are to treat all the Alice’s and Harry’s in this world with dignity.
Now, if you aren’t successful in getting support from your former wife, so be it. You’ll have to go it alone. The same message needs to be conveyed.
Finally, you need to be consistent and firm in monitoring their interactions with Alice. Whenever inappropriate behavior starts to gain life, nudge it back into its grave. Always. No exceptions!