How old are the children spinner and how do you know the other parent is being abusive and what sort of impropriety are you talking about?
There are more questions than answers to this one because it depends on what the situation is and what part both parents have played in the childs/ren state of mind.
There is no doubt children form opinions from both parents so part of the answer may be to start at home when looking for the problem then work out.
For example the child may be reacting badly to the other parent because of a reward or encouragement from the resident parent then a knee jerk reaction sees the non-resident parent counter this bad behaviour by trying to instil their control not taking into account that the child/ren are not use to these rules and rebel against the authority.
In saying this it does not mean that this is what is happening in your situation simply it is one of the possible problems that may occur but not be faced up to.
My girlfriend's kids come back from visitation often crying because their father licks them tongue kisses them drinks heavily and leaves them alone. And that is just one weekend as an example. I don't know if the kids are pulling our legs or not but they are pretty wrecked about it. My girlfriend doesn't like it because she says it is just a control thing that he does but I am thinking this is abuse.
She doesn't say much to them because he always claims some alien parent thing when they don't want to go. I don't know how she can encourage them when this happens.
Is it really a difference of lifestyle? No one I grew up with did this. I think it is inappropriate.
Her kids are 15 13 11. If that makes any difference.
This behaviour (licking and tongue kissing) is not appropriate. The drinking and being left alone are a bit of a line ball and lifestyle issue. Not what I would be doing, but a long stretch to do much about, given the eldest child is old enough to act as baby sitter, if Dad is not there. Again, not what I would be doing.
A mature discussion needs to be had. I would also suggest this would best be done through mediation.
It's sounds as if your partner has possibly couched the suggestion that he desist in this behaviour as part of a threat to deny contact. Which, I can understand if the children's father is being difficult. This is where a third party can assist by lending some objectivity.
It is hard being the partner and seeing your step-children upset. I sympathise with you.
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I know how she is. She does not threaten him with anything because she is afraid of him. It took her 5yrs of us being together to tell him that she doesn't want him to call her.
I guess what I am saying is that the kids come back alive, albeit upset, how can anyone actively encourage children of this age to go anywhere that they really don't want to go to? We have trouble just to get them to pick up their mess!! As an adult you see people with some serious baggage from childhood and you just want to protect a kid from anything extra.
And yeah seeing the kids upset when I love them really gets me especially when I have no legal say in the matter at all. I am finding it difficult to see this guy as just a good bloke with different ideals.
Spinner you need to be careful and define your role in the order of things, the responsibility of the children when at home ( your home ) needs to fall onto the mother, she needs to set the rules and you need to be in a support role with understanding. Pressuring the situation can see some very adverse reactions come from within the unit.
If she accepts what the kids are going through it's very hard for you to challenge without increasing tension, no doubt you have experienced this already.
Sometimes it is easier for a parent to accept the role of victim and let the step parent do the work of two and this just adds confusion to the children.
They are mature enough to be left on their own although this is not the desired situation and really it would benefit the kids no end if their dad made an effort in the time they are there but not much will be done.
If the kids are old enough to get on the phone and tell their dad that they do not want to go then perhaps look at abiding by their wishes but this needs to be done by mum not you. I think straight out threat may lead to adversarial response as well as threats if he is the way you describe and thats why allowing the kids to gain their own power may be of more benefit but you may need to make some suggestions to mum that she may like to make to the children, one of these may be to seek guidance from a school councillor the other is to seek external counselling over a period of time to help them express their own wishes.
Remember any suggestions or advice you give your partner is just that and she may choose not to follow it so you also need to be prepared for this, any action she takes will be done so with your support but perhaps without you present so you being pushy will just end with nothing being done apart appeasing you.
I would suggest that if the kids mentioned tongue kisses by the father or other inappropriate behaviour a school councillor may take action on behalf of the children if it is mentioned.
In saying all this it could be just a stupid adolescent game that he has played with the kids for years that they are getting jacked of where he may pretend to go for a tongue kiss but not seriously do it and never has, something that may have been funny when younger looses it's humour when the kids grow and some parents don't see their children growing and changing.
You are in the best position to look into the whole dynamic but do so with open eyes, your love for the children is not in question though you may need to reflect on the complete family unit.
Their mum needs to make up her mind you can suggest mediation as a possible solloution and see how she feels.