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Kids making visitation hell

 I have all 4 of my kids staying with me at present - aged 11, 13, 15 and 17. The 11 and 15 yr old girls live with me, 13 yr old girl and 17 yr old boy live with my ex (he is the father of all except the boy, who was 17 months when we married). The first week went along fine with only minimal fights etc that you expect in a family. Over the weekend it degenerated with the fights becoming violent. Both the visiting kids react to any slight with aggression. They expect everything their own way and if thwated yell abuse swear etc.
I have tried the usual banning of TV, not letting the 17 yr old drive (he's on L's) but it just causes more aggressive behaviour.

Both have had a go at me for ending the relationship with their Dad almost 3 years ago, and now are constantly swearing. My 13 yr old calls me a "f'ing sl**" "c***", and female dog, everything she utters is a demand or insulting tone. They are in constant turmoil, punching, throwing things and causing the whole visit to be unbearable. The 13 yr old has also stolen money off the others, her Dad expects me to sort it out in two weeks when this behaviour has been going on for well over 4 years. My son has also commented that her behaviour during this visit is "way better than at home" (!!!!) Not to mention that nothing is good enough for the 13 year old who critisizes everything from what I serve up for meals, wear, my weight and is derogatory about EVERYTHING.

This is only the 2nd visit from my son in 3 years, last time ended up with the police being called after he abused me the whole visit to the point where I slapped him and he had me bailed up with his hand around my throat and the other holding my hair. (I hadn't realised my ex was on the phone to him the whole time he was yelling at me) It was like watching a puppet of my ex sitting there saying all the things my ex used to when we split.

This morning after yet another fight where I was abused and called names I rang my ex and have requested that I return the kids tomorrow - a 5 hour drive to the half way mark. I gave him a brief outline of todays effort and stated that I want him to pick them up as I will not be treated this way therefore they are not welcome to stay further.

Right now I feel like I should stop all visitation visits to my home, the 4 can have time together when with my ex over holidays, and the 15 yr old has already expressed her dislike of visits that are so unpleasant. I know by the time it comes to the next holiday here (Easter) I will be missing them enough to want them again, however 3 years of this pattern has me torn between wanting to see them and dreading the stress and conflict.

To top it all off I found out earlier in the day that my ex has taken both the older girls for belly button piercings contrary to both spoken and written agreements that this wouldn't happen without either parents consent. It doesn't seem worth involving a solicitor for this however I am concerned at the blatant disregard and undermining of my wishes, undermining of my decisions and also encouraging the girls to go behind my back.

What would you do in this situation? Given that I want the best for my children is it really reasonable to refuse all visits until they can behave?

When you are swimming down a creek and an eel bites your cheek, that's a Moray.
Its sounds absolutely horrible and distressing. Communication has broken down completely.

What communication and messages would it take to the children so that their angers and fears can be addressed? They sound a bit old to be maintaining a grudge - its sounds like the air needs to be cleared.

If people do wrong things then I suppose that needs to be recognized - we all make mistakes, no one is perfect. Maybe having ONE on ONE conversations with each child in a safe and separate happy environment for them - where can you take them were they would like to go and you can start to establish a relationship with them?

The kids sound very unhappy - and they are at a difficult age of growing up and learning behaviours. You can still set an example and show them how to behave under stress.

Its tough and demanding - particularly as you don't seem to see them much - makes it hard to establish an effective relationship.

You will have to get support yourself to help you do this - this forum, friends to talk things out with, get ideas and make sure you keep your cool - you're the adult and the kids sound like they are desperately looking for a way to be happy.

 Maybe I am not explaining myself well enough
I agree with Jon:

the kids sound like they are desperately looking for a way to be happy.

As an adult, you have 2 choices - end contact with the 2 older and salvage your relationship with the other 2 (which I don't believe is very satisfactory) or
push on, but do something that is going to, eventually, resolve the situation.

The 13 yr old is obviously going to be the most torn and difficult. She is wanting Daddy's attention and her tirades are an obvious way of getting it (both at your and his house). As these tirades are really just hormonal tantrums, I would treat them as such - with time outs.

Ask the kids for some individual time, outside orders.

As Jon suggested, you need to get them individually on the quiet. take the 13 yr old out for coffee and get the 17yr old to take you on a long drive. Boys talk better when half their brain is inolved in another task.

Tell them how much you love them, some of the things that make you proud (I know, could be hard at the mo) but how their behaviour has you worried. How, they didn't learn good ways to resolve conflict when they were little. You do not blame them - but now they are old enough, they have choices. They can choose to stay the same, or learn a healthier way to be with the world. THeir current attitudes will bleed over into their work life and relationships.

I would sit them down and go through the house rules. Arguments are ok - but they must be healthy ones (ie no name calling, no physical stuff, it's gotta be constructive). The minute anyone deviates from the rules - it's timeout.

I'd sit them down and watch some episodes of supernanny. Seriously.

If it all gets beyond your control - the first activitiy when you are next together is relationships australia with a counsellor. Usually teenagers need to hear it from someone else - parents are idiots after all.

If you try your hardest to do your best, get them on board, if it doesn't work then - well they have made a choice to live their lives that way. You can walk away, knowing that you planted the seed.

Good luck.

Junior Executive of SRL-Resources

Executive Member of SRL-Resources, the Family Law People on this site (Look for the Avatars). Be mindful what you post in public areas. 
Jadzia is going through a difficult time and I believe she welcomes the suggestions given here.

On a lighter note:
Artemis said
Boys talk better when half their brain is involved in another task.
Do you mean that male brains can multitask and females can only single task?

Executive Member of SRL-Resources, the Family Law People on this site (look for the Avatars) Be mindful what you post in public areas. 
Kids model their behaviour from what they learn and I'm guessing Jadzia and her ex were not giving the best role models from various things in her posts.

No offence Jadzia, I'm not intimating that you were the issue, given the ex's current poor behaviour in not supporting your parenting.

While 'spends time with' is warmer and fuzzier, the reality is like visitation. You have minimal control over the kids larger world - they just 'visit' you.

Back to Agog -

Men's brains are primitive and only require engagement in a physical task and they will sing like canaries. It's not just me saying that, but Steve Biddulph in Raising Boys :p

Women are conversationally more sophisticated (even at 13) so there is little point in even trying that ploy… lol

Junior Executive of SRL-Resources

Executive Member of SRL-Resources, the Family Law People on this site (Look for the Avatars). Be mindful what you post in public areas. 
Thanks everyone, the suggestions are great.

I have explained my concerns about their behaviour and the consequences on their future, plus how they have choices etc. and done the one on one thing a few times, my son I found this time was willing to talk more but is torn about "who to believe" so any discussion on the separation whys has been suspended. I told him that his uncertainty was fair enough and that he will need make his own mind up when he is able to think clearly about what has happened in the past. He has "chosen" to forget the negatives of when we were all together as a family.

My daughter repeats everything I say back to Dad, so time spent alone with her is on enjoyable things, ie makeup, hair, shopping etc.

I fully agree with you Artemis and not offended. There have been faults with both of us in early parenting, I have allowed this to happen and should have either stood up for what I believed in or left much earlier.

The status quo is now back in place with the two on visitation now back with their father. What I will do is write down the house rules and stipulate that visitation will only occur when they are willing to abide by those rules. I think having been shipped home early will show that I mean what I say.

When you are swimming down a creek and an eel bites your cheek, that's a Moray.
Sometimes, it hurts the parent more to discipline than the child - at least that's my experience. It's the long term gain to focus on. You are switched on girl!

Junior Executive of SRL-Resources

Executive Member of SRL-Resources, the Family Law People on this site (Look for the Avatars). Be mindful what you post in public areas. 
Thanks Artemis - latest is he has had the phone disconnected so the kids can't contact me at all except via mobile, and they don't get money for credit. For me to keep the level of contact up from my end it is going to hike the costs considerably.

When you are swimming down a creek and an eel bites your cheek, that's a Moray.
It seems like the kids have been programed for this exact task.

To be fair I'd have to ask what your other childrens behavior living with you is like ??

I've read bits and pieces of your other post regarding the phone and contact but didn't realise how old the kids are.

The depth of alienation is quite severe four years of control to manipulate a young mind to an alternate truth that the alienator themselves has now created as their own truth and to some point believes it  emphatically is not unusual but to got the extreme where violence is incited may well also have a social degradation involved.

Contacting the school she attends or even school reports will help you find if this behavior is restricted to parents or life consuming.

I have a feeling that the kids lack boundaries of any sort but suffer your guilt what ever that is we don't know because it's come from the fathers manipulation.

And although you probably know all this it may not be all his fault because I do not know the whole story but I suspect that you have played some games defensively.

We all have to remember that when kids come to us from another home they have a set routine and rules, we can't expect them to just drop into our way of doing things, they will reject this it is alien to them they need time to adjust and we have to meet them half way.
Jadzia none of this may be true for you I'm reading between lines of a feeling I get when I read your post I may well be totally of mark so if I'm write or wrong please accept my apologies no offense was meant.  
D4E said
It seems like the kids have been programmed for this exact task.

To be fair I'd have to ask what your other children's behaviour living with you is like ??
The two that live with me are great. So much so that I have friends / family / in-laws comment on how well behaved and happy they are, and what a change in them since I left my ex. They understand consequences, responsibility, boundaries and appreciate what they have. They still have their moments, especially the 11 year old who regresses when tired or sick, and they are still untidy, try and bend rules and do all the usual things kids do. The difference between both "camps" is remarkable.

I agree with you completely, the two who live with my ex lack in boundaries and yet seem to respond to mine for the first week of visits then it all gets too much for them.
D4E said
And although you probably know all this it may not be all his fault because I do not know the whole story but I suspect that you have played some games defensively.
I think so however there is a difference to playing games to manipulate children to your own ends and playing "the game" in order to survive. I actually don't need to play games as  usually he drops himself in it with them and if I don't play then I am seen as the innocent party. Does that make sense? I made a decision early on in the split to not play games as they are not only counter productive but damaging to the kids (regardless of how satisfactory it is to upset him). Even worse than that is if I play games then that is what I am modelling to my children. My two tend not to manipulate or play one against the other so the payoff is tangible - the two with him? Carbon copy game players and manipulators.

Funnily enough I spoke to my 13 yr old yesterday about the next holidays - she felt that she was unwelcome to visit again. I told her quite clearly that I have certain rules and standards of behaviour in my home and that if she is willing to abide by them then I would love her to come stay, and that if she chooses to come then she is in fact accepting my terms. Her response was "Your rules are gay, and you are too strict" I asked her in what way too strict and her come back "making us pick things up and put them away"
The main thing I insist on is treating others with respect and using good manners. Generally anything else comes by consequences and choices.

No offence taken at all - I appreciate your post and insights.

When you are swimming down a creek and an eel bites your cheek, that's a Moray.
Familiar with your daughters comments from when I had step kids.

It's sad that kids feel they have to communicate by bad behavior and have dialog from a parent telling them off.

This I see is not on your part but it well could be that in their dads home unless something is wrong there is no communication hence they learn to communicate in a different way.

When my daughter comes from her mothers she has her mothers house in her mind and the first night she gets let off a little after all she's only six, but after that she gets reeled. As soon as she is reminded where she is she apologises and you can see the hurt in her eyes because she didn't mean to be mean.

Setting their boundaries is one of the only ways to get them use to things but when there are long periods between visits and an obstructive parent it must be heart shattering.

My own step kids turned their back the day the X left it hurt but I understand they had too we just don't speak anymore thanks to their mum.
yes it is difficult and i can relate to you being hurt by not seeing your step kids.

The hardest thing I find to deal with is the guilt for allowing the situation to happen. I'm just now moving past that and into a proactive mode where I call the shots not accept behaviour I don't like or deserve because they are "visiting".

When you are swimming down a creek and an eel bites your cheek, that's a Moray.
I'm pretty lucky about the guilt stuff, I won't say I don't suffer from guilt but I know I couldn't and can't stop things beyond my control.

Trouble is in your situation your kids living with you get introduced over time to changes and grow with you but the kids living with there dad haven't been allowed to grow as he has remained pretty much the same by the sounds of things.

The kids are old enough to chose who they live with so at the end of the day even if you fought you may well have lost, now they just have to grow up and find themselves and it will be everyone else's fault no doubt.

Best of luck for the next visit.
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