Beliefnet
Dear Rabbi Shmuley,
My husband and I have been married for 12 years, and we each were married before and have children with our ex-spouses. We have one child together. The problem lies in that my husband gives in to his 17-year-old son whenever he wants something, and lately it is getting very expensive. The latest thing was new tires, which cost over $200.00; our family in our house did some suffering because we were short on money and had to not go grocery shopping or buy anything for three weeks because my husband also gave his son $75 for school clothes (of course this is included in child support but his ex doesn't understand that).

My husband does not see the unfairness that I see; I really believe he feels guilty because he says that it was not his son's fault they got divorced. However, his ex-wife and now his son know how to lay on a guilt trip to my husband and that he will give in 99 percent of the time. Also there is resentment and jealousy because somehow my two sons usually find out that my husband's son got money for this or that.

Open my husband's eyes to what he is doing! Last time he gave his son money for his car (over $600), I was so upset, I told my husband I wanted him to sign an agreement that he would never do that again; but he has twice done it since. Yes, his son has a job but can't afford these items. I even told his son that he could pay us back $10 a month (great deal) until he was done paying for the tires. Help me to help my husband stop; I feel like freezing all the accounts sometimes!
--Money is Tight

Dear Tight,
No doubt you're right. Your husband feels guilty about the divorce, and how his son suffers as a result. And you're doubly right that his indulgence of his son is destructive all around, both in your marriage and in his relationship with his son.

This is what you need to do. Sit your husband down and tell him you need to talk to him. Say the following. "Honey, none of us gets married with the intention to divorce. We don't want to harm our kids, we don't want to harm ourselves. We want to keep it all together. But divorce happens. And when it does, it's important to deal with it in the best possible way.

"With regard to your son, you're not doing things right. You're indulging him. You're spoiling him. Maybe you do it because you think this way he'll suffer less, or maybe you think he'll love you more. But it's not going to work because, ultimately, you're just going to harm him by not teaching him responsibility or the value of hard work. Worse, you're going to create jealousy between my kids and your kids.

"We're a blended family, and that's hard enough. But now my kids are beginning to feel that they are treated by a different standard from your kids, and they're growing resentful. That's going to alienate them
from you and it's also going to cause our kids to not get along. What you need to do, honey, rather than spoil your son, is simply be the best father you can be. Spend time with him. Guide him. Inspire him. But don't buy him. You can't offer him things in place of love. That's buying him, and that's not right.

"Talk to him. Tell him why you're going to start doing things differently. Tell him that you want to teach him the value of hard work and the value of responsibility. I know it won't be easy at first, and he might even pull away slightly to punish and manipulate you. But in the long run, it'll work out. Your son will be better off. You'll have a more honest and loving relationship with him. And our family will be stronger and closer together."

If you think it will be more effective, write this down for your husband and hand it to him. Tell him to read it. And then explain why you wrote it and why you think his relationship with his son is not healthy. If you speak from the heart, and if you're careful not to put your husband on the defensive, you will get through to him.

I wish you all the best,
Shmuley
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