"Parents cannot effectively communicate their love to a child unless they are also a source of effective authority. "

Marital Disagreement over Discipline

Question

I have one biological son who is 13 and 2 years ago gained 3 teenage stepsons due to my 2nd marriage. My husband is smart, successful and well-liked by everyone that meets him. And there's not a person that meets us that doesn't feel we are a perfect match. He's also a fabulous/supportive stepdad to my son. My son's dad would even agree to this. However, his kids are a different story. They are disrespectful (even to him and their grandparents!), irresponsible, unaccountable and entitled. They actually even "mock" him when he attempts to display authority. He admits he's been parenting them from guilt from the beginning as he traveled for his job 4 days a work during their formative years. During that time, their mother (who has an education degree), did not provide any boundaries, but yet excused (and continues to excuse) all behavior. They had never been expected to even pick up after themselves, respect the house or even personal items; let alone have specific chores of any kind. These children have NEVER been given your "vitamin N" either. In fact, they are overindulged to the point that even losing items (even cell phones, etc.) is not an issue as it will quickly be replaced.
Once the divorce occurred, my husband switched positions within his company to be home more, but still wants to be his kids' "buddy," so discipline has been nonexistent, regardless of how they behave. I did not raise my child in this manner whatsoever. I'm in no way saying I'm the perfect parent, but my child is extremely polite, loving, giving, thoughtful and humble. He has been doing chores since he was 4 years old. My ex and I co-parent very well in that we remain on the same page, regardless of whose home it is. As a result, we both have a very close relationship with him. He also has a tremendous heart for Christ and actually humbles me to be perfectly honest. My husband's children admittedly have no relationship with Christ, and don't even really have a relationship with their parents. It's more of a "what can you do for me" scenario. On top of that, the youngest has bullied my son in our home (to the point of even physical recently). I actually had to move him out of the house in the past and he has been spending more time at his dad's since this incident for his protection, so I'm being forced to spend my given time with him there; rather than in my own home. My issue is despite the fact that I'm the woman of the household, my husband has given me ZERO authority over these kids. In fact, I'm not even allowed to say anything to them that doesn't "build them up." This has caused a LOT of distress in our marriage, in addition to the stress my son is feeling, in a place where he is supposed to feel safe. We are currently living in the home my husband lived with his previous family for over a decade, which has been a major contributor to our issues as well (the ex still enters the house whenever she wants and the kids constantly remind my son and I it's "their" house). Fortunately, I've been able to find us a new home that we close on later this month. But I'm fearful that that is simply going to be just a temporary band-aid because the disrespect has yet to be adequately addressed. I feel lost as I love my husband, love my child and want my marriage/this family to work. But I feel like I'm beating my head against a wall because my husband, in my opinion, doesn't adequately address their behavior and then his ex actually attacks him and defends their actions if he even tries; so he caves. Please help!!! :,(

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