Archive for June 28th, 2007

June 28, 2007

Power-struggles with a boy…..

by Rod Smith

“The man I am living has a son but when we moved in together I did not think he would be living with us and only see his mother every other weekend. His dad goes easy on him and that’s okay. When I try to say something I’m the bad guy! He told his dad and grandma that I am mean. I just don’t let him get away with stuff like his dad and others do. I have 3 children who know that I don’t let them get away with stuff. The man I am with does not see that his son is running his life. I have been going through this for three years. Please help.” (Edited for clarity)

Three years is a long time to be in a power-struggle with a boy! While you are not married to the father the child will always win. Actually, when you are married, too, your “power” over the father and the son will also be rather limited.

This said, you now occupy no legal position in the family and therefore the father has no motivation to hear what you are trying to say, or to see what it is you see in his son’s behavior.

Give up the struggle. Let the dad and grandma be the “good guys.” Become “silent guy” (regarding the child’s behavior) until you are legally empowered to play your part.

Before I am deluged with mail and told I am advocating for the child to have no boundaries, or advocating lawless behavior for the child, please note, it is not the child who has the issue.

The woman wants power (I am sure for “good” reasons) over the child which she simply does not have. The person who does have the power (the dad), is choosing not to use it!

Marriage might not change anything, but at least it will give dad some incentive to hear his wife about the child.

A legal contract DOES make a difference to a relationship. The woman’s status will change even if the boy’s behavior does not!

June 28, 2007

In further response to yesterday’s column regarding son disrupting new marriage…

by Rod Smith

In further response to yesterday’s question from a mother and a son (13) who is ‘causing conflict in my new marriage.’ As quoted yesterday, the mother says, ‘I don’t think it has anything to do with his father. We’ve been divorced for eleven years. My son doesn’t see, or want to see, his dad at all. His dad doesn’t contact him so it is not that he wants us to get back together. The constant bickering is driving me insane,’ and ‘I’m at a point were I will pack my bags and leave.’

That a child does not see the “other” parent, or declares this is not something he or she wants to do – does not mean the absence of the other parent is not (partially) driving the child’s unwanted behavior. I’d suggest this boy has little or no idea why he is doing what he is doing, and that a professional could help him discover new and helpful ways to behave.

This is a “new” marriage for the mother; therefore it is also a new family arrangement for the boy. He’s occupying a new place in relation to his mother, which is enough reason for difficulty in itself. The least helpful action the mother could do is pack her bags and leave the very situation she helped create!

June 28, 2007

Son is disrupting new marriage….

by Rod Smith

“My son (13) is giving me problems and causing conflict in my new marriage. He treats my second husband like dirt and back chats us and blames us when he is at fault. He has reassured me that he loves my new husband but can’t help or prevent what he says. My son says that he knows what he says to us is wrong but he can’t stop himself. I don’t think it has anything to do with his father. We’ve been divorced for eleven years. My son doesn’t see, or want to see, his dad at all. His dad doesn’t contact him so it is not that he wants us to get back together. The constant bickering is driving me insane. I don’t know what to do anymore. I?m at a point were I will pack my bags and leave. Both of them know how I feel as I’ve spoken to the separately and together. Please do you have any advice for me? I’m desperate.” (Letter edited)

Rod replies: Your son’s behavior deserves professional attention. Please seek face-to-face help for the whole family so each of you might have the opportunity to speak your mind in the presence of a trained professional.