My husband has three children from a previous marriage, whom we can only see every summer for eight weeks.
They have minimal rules at their mother's home - it’s mostly a lecture about mommy’s disappointment in them. No grounding, no taking electronics away.
His youngest son, 11, is out of control. Even adult babysitters quit because he never listens, respects no one.
Last year, my husband had to take a leave of absence from work the last two weeks, because of the youngest boy.
We have few issues with the older boys, but the younger one ignores rules.
We’ve grounded him, taken all of his electronics, didn’t let him participate (only watch) while everyone else swam and had fun.
He doesn't care. He’s very mean to his brothers and step-brother (my son), is disrespectful to all adults, breaks things, steals, hides the other kids' toys/electronics, curses, yells….
We’ve tried tirelessly to work with my husband's ex-wife on developing some structure for all, but especially for the youngest.
We've recommended therapy – her reaction was a no-visitation threat.
My family says we shouldn't even bring the youngest one here anymore.
But I can't bring myself to do that. What more can we do?
At A Loss
You can start with the fundamentals – not with competing “fixes” from separate parents, nor isolating the boy – but understanding what’s happening within him.
Yes, to professional help – right away – for you and your husband, first. Seek a child behaviour specialist, and ask what kind of social factors as well as health issues lead a child “out of control.”
Certainly, the divide between his mother’s approach and that of you and your husband, plays a part. But what else is happening to make this child so uncomfortable, yet needy of attention? A behavioural disorder, a physical problem as yet undiagnosed?
Of course, his mother would resist counselling for her son if she doesn’t know his problem either, because the suggestion comes from her ex and you, and implies some fault on her part.
What’s needed is information, not blame. And a sincere effort to get across to everyone dealing with this youngster, that the goal is to help him, not control him.
I know this isn’t easy. But it’s actually harder on him, long-term, than on you. Or on your family who are absolutely wrong to say you shouldn’t let him summer with you.
Get critically-needed knowledge. Then get on side with his mother, no matter your differences, for the boy’s sake.
I’m early 30’s and own a suburban house near where I work. My girlfriend of two years is late-20s and purchased a downtown condo near where she works (in health field with longer hours).
We’ve spent 95% of nights in the condo to be together, as I’ve agreed to commute (two hours) daily to work.
I make a good income and for years have paid someone for grass-cutting, pool-cleaning, shovelling, cleaning, and doing my laundry.
I’ve offered to pay for a condo-cleaner but she refuses. She believes in the value of doing things yourself and wants me to help clean. When I refuse, she gets upset.
Having offered my share, I shouldn’t feel obligated to help.
You’re both stuck on a difference of values. The solution is called compromise.
If this value matters more to her than your having to spend an hour weekly helping her tidy a downtown-sized condo, it’s a “give.” In strong relationships, there are always “gets” in return.
FEEDBACK Regarding the letter-writer facing racism from managers as well as clients (June 20):
Reader – “As an HR person I can say, your employer has a legal obligation to protect you from harassment.
“Put that treatment on file with HR.
“As a business person, I know you’ll feel annoyed and offended.
“Since part of your job involves meeting clients personally, I suggest you manage the realities of the situations you're meeting by connecting with clients before meeting, via phone then Skype.
“That way, they know you as a person first, and you've had time to make a good impression and build a relationship before they pigeonhole you.
“For now, you’re unfortunately being tasked with the unwanted burden of educating others, internally and externally.
“Show what a great person you are and how much compassion you have for others, and maybe you'll be able to change a few minds in the process.”
Tip of the day:
Uncontrollable-child behaviour calls for professional information and direction, for the child’s sake.